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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 12/28/21

Guests: Dave Grohl


The CDC adjusts COVID guidelines as the Omicron variant surges. Dave Grohl, the rock legend, speaks out. The Republican playbook is examined. Ari Melber explores his parents` record collection.




Hi, Ari.

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

And welcome to THE BEAT, everyone. I am Ari Melber.

We have a special show for you tonight. It is "Chai Day" right here on THE BEAT. If you watch this program, you know what that means, today, Chai. And if you don`t, I will invite you to find out. We`re excited about it. We`re going to talk politics and also, believe it or not, some NFL.

Also, later in the hour, Dave Grohl, the rock legend, is on THE BEAT. And we have another surprise for you by the end of the hour. And I don`t like to give away surprises. No spoilers. But before I get to the serious stuff, I will tell you that, by the end of the hour, if we`re not interrupted by breaking news, you will see both of my parents on THE BEAT.

OK, that`s later.

We begin, though, with the serious stuff. It`s what we`re all living through together. It`s coronavirus. It is back in a big way. And the CDC is trying to adjust the guidelines, as we deal with the new variant and this; 59 percent of cases in the U.S. here are the new Omicron variant.

The seven-day average here continues the bad record-breaking we have seen. In fact, we have another record high today, over 253,000 daily COVID cases. We`re also seeing more people going to the hospital. The number of children hospitalized with COVID is also rising, most of them, though, not vaccinated. So, in that respect, it follows some of the trends we have seen.

Now, I also want to make sure that we all understand the moment we`re in, because, while the COVID rate, the number of cases is hitting these all- time highs, and that`s a big concern, the rate of hospitalization is still actually down.

And things are not as deadly as they were last year at this time, although the case rate is as bad as last winter. So, you can keep those thoughts in mind as we make sense of what we`re doing and as we see that the vaccine still helps in so many ways, including keeping the death rate lower.

The CDC is also cutting the isolation time for COVID cases that have no symptoms down to five days. That`s if you have no symptoms or your symptoms are clearly improving. This comes after lobbying, though, from the airline industry after thousands of flights were canceled nationwide, airlines losing staffers to COVID quarantines, 2,500 flights canceled today.

That move has drawn criticism from the flight attendants union and the largest nursing union in America.


SARA NELSON, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: It was all about the staffing issues. That is the quick response from CDC in the middle of this holiday season to try to address that, rather than be focused on public health policies.

No worker should be forced to come to work when they`re still sick. And that is, I believe, what we are going to see here. We`re very concerned about that.

JEAN ROSS, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL NURSES UNITED: It`s only going to lead to more illness, more cases. This is when you should be tightening your controls, not lessening them.


A. MELBER: This is happening in real time.

And like much of the pandemic -- and I have said this to you and covering it throughout -- there are policy tradeoffs here. There are real things that you have to balance. It`s not just a fight of truth and lies or disinformation, though we cover that too.

Here, what we`re seeing is labor groups talking about what they think is best for their members on a safety platform. And we`re also seeing the CDC and other scientific experts saying what they think is viable and against the real world pressure that we all know about, which is so many people stranded or delayed at this holiday time for flights. People want to be together. They also want to be safe.

And the CDC has a response here. They say that this recommendation is still backed by the science and that most of the transmission, which is what they are guarding against when you take these isolation measures, occurs earlier in the course of the illness.

Here`s Dr. Fauci.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: We don`t want to get into a situation with so many people are out from their jobs, many of which are essential jobs to keep society running smoothly.

So the decision the part of the CDC is a really prudent and good decision. And it`s based on science, because the chances of virus being shedded in the first five days is much greater than in the second five days following infection.


A. MELBER: Dr. Fauci giving his take. That was on MSNBC`s "THE REIDOUT."

We`re joined now by Dr. Kavita Patel from the Obama White House and currently a Brookings fellow.

Happy holidays, and welcome back.

DR. KAVITA PATEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Ari. Good to be with you, especially on this day with your parents. I`m very, very excited for that.

A. MELBER: You know, I was like, do we keep it as that mysterious thing? Or do I just tell you?

And in this case, I decided to tell everyone, so that`s later.

We look at this. What do you think is most important for people to understand, especially if folks have understandably been out of the news maybe for a few days or a week, as we see the new variant hitting and some of these policy debates?

PATEL: Yes, I couldn`t agree with you more.

I think any time you`re putting out policy, you also have to couple it with communication. And I will be honest. This is, I think, where the CDC really has failed, because the policy might be sound.


And to recap, you shorten isolation if your symptoms are resolving or if you never had symptoms at all, to five days, with the respect that you will wear a mask. And we`re trusting people to do the right thing. And wear a high-quality mask, I will add.

And I think that`s where the communication falters. I think, Ari, for me, as a physician and someone trying to deal with this on a real-world basis, if you`re sick, stay at home,. Do not try -- I think people are really feeling pressured to come back.

And I think that, as the unions and some of the flight attendants, nurses, doctors, health care workers have already said, we should not make people who are sick feel pressured to do anything. And I think that really is the bottom line.

Add to this that we have a testing shortage. I would love to say, if you`re going to come out of isolation, Ari, get a high-quality test to make sure that you`re not infectious. The truth of the matter, there`s simply not enough tests to do that, which is why I think, in part, you saw this guidance without testing to end isolation early.

A. MELBER: Yes, well, you`re very clear. That makes -- that all makes sense.

Let`s read off a little bit here of what we`re hearing about Omicron vs. Delta. The infection appears to protect, they say, if you do get it, against the Delta COVID variant. And one study, as you know, says it could even displace it.

The results, I`m reading here, say: "Omicron displaces the Delta variant since it can elicit immunity, making reinfection with Delta less likely," according to the findings from this scientific study that was done in one of the countries that had this early on.

Your thoughts?

PATEL: Yes, I think it`s really promising.

It`s before peer review. So I say that with a caveat, because it`s great that we`re kind of accessing science in more real time than we ever used to. But I do want it to be peer-reviewed. And then we will see if the results that they claim they have stand up to that review.

If all is true, which I hope it is, then, as you point out, this kind of burning wildfire of Omicron could help protect us from Delta, which, by the way, as the CDC kind of put out another statement today, Ari, stating that their estimates of how much of the country is Omicron might have been slightly an overestimate, or, as it was reported, a forecast, and that it`s really about 59 percent.

Either way, we still have some Delta in this country. And your point is that we could look to Omicron potentially being the beginning of the end of this pandemic. We know pandemics occur in phases. This particular strain could signal the end. But it`s way too premature to kind of hope on that.

And for all those reasons, we don`t want to -- we don`t want people to get infected if we can avoid it.

A. MELBER: Understood.

Then there`s the way that people are reacting to, of course, these case counts. And I just -- I just mentioned this to viewers that it`s bad. We`re breaking all-time records. Those headlines you see on your screen or on your phone or wherever you get your news are bad.

And yet we still know that the vaccine has kept them from being more deadly and more dangerous. That`s a fact that`s borne out by so much of the data. And that`s why, as the case count breaks all-time records, the death rate is not. The death rate is lower. And then, of course, we have the unvaccinated bearing the brunt of this, the president at one point saying it was really a pandemic of the unvaccinated by the end of the year.

With all of that in mind, I want to play something that is incorrect, but I want to play it so you can just give us the medical view. We don`t need to disparage everyone. Now, this is from a United States senator, Republican Senator Johnson. So one might hope that he would know better.

But my point in playing it is, it`s something that people might hear from family members or friends, which is well, wait, if it`s still surging. What`s so great about the vaccine in the first place? Take a listen. Here`s how he put it.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): We all hoped and prayed the vaccines would be 100 percent effective, 100 percent safe, but they`re not. We now know that fully vaccinated individuals can catch COVID and they can transmit COVID.

So what`s the point?


A. MELBER: He says, what`s the point? These conversations continue to going on around the country.

Doctor tell us, what is the point, if, as he says, there are breakthrough infections?

PATEL: Yes, I was a philosophy major. It reminds me of Plato that opinion is the kind of the medium between knowledge and ignorance.

And so I do think that this was a display of opinion and ignorance, because the truth, the vaccines were never what we would call sterilizing. So we never thought this vaccine would 100 percent prevent you from getting infected.

It always was intended to prevent all the downstream hospitalization, death and, frankly, long COVID. We`re not talking about long COVID enough, but we`re seeing too many people who had no vaccines early on, got COVID, still suffering. And we know that the vaccines have helped them and can help prevent others from getting long COVID if they were to contract the coronavirus.

So, it`s just, simply stated, the facts and the knowledge are that the vaccines are saving lives. And, frankly, Ari, if we had more of the blood vaccinated, even with an Omicron variant, one, we might not have an Omicron variant, and, two, we would not have the case counts we`re seeing.


And to your point about the case counts, it will be very important to shift to looking at the rate of hospitalization. And, frankly, while we are seeing a lot of people hospitalized, it is nowhere near the percentage from a year ago.

So I think that`s critical too. That`s a fact that vaccines are working.

A. MELBER: Dr. Patel with a lot of the facts, which is why we give you the floor here, our leadoff exclusive guest, thank you for being here tonight.

PATEL: Thank you.

A. MELBER: Appreciate it.

We have a lot more in the program, including something I want to tell you about the Supreme Court and an accountability check for Justice Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee.

Later, Dave Grohl from Nirvana and Foo Fighters is here.

But, first, there are these revelations about Steve Bannon and other MAGA figures, how they wanted to openly steal the election, why that matters for next time, and why they`re bringing in the NFL.

Chai Komanduri is here live for "Chai Day" next.



STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: It`s like the old Green Bay power sweep. It`s very simple.


A. MELBER: Turning to a story about a top set of Republicans with detailed plans to steal elections.

And it`s the news tonight because these same top Republicans are the ones sharing their own detailed plans. It`s kind of like a coach releasing their own secret playbook. But, in fact, this story also takes a page out of an epic NFL playbook.


Trump White House vet Steve Bannon is indicted and awaiting trial for hiding evidence about his January 6 plotting. Now one of his very own accomplices, Trump vet Peter Navarro, is leaking their own January 6 plans, detailing the scheme to try to help Trump stay in power, despite his loss.

Navarro calls all of it, in his view, the perfect plan. He has a new book that recounts how they wanted to rally congressional Republicans to interfere with certifying Joe Biden`s win.

Now, ultimately, 147 members of Congress did vote against the standard practice of certifying that win. Navarro likens the whole effort to Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi`s legendary play, the Green Bay Sweep, citing the goal of creating a chaotic process that would yield 24 hours of televised hearings.

Now, the Green Bay Packers, the sweep was generally considered unstoppable. For these Trump fans invoking it, not so much. They failed to delay the plan certification January 6, even amidst the related insurrection, their playbook aimed at adding time and public attention on these election complaints for Trump, which they thought would pressure Mike Pence and get him to ultimately join what would have been an illegal coup.

Now, Navarro says they didn`t even, in his view -- quote -- "need" protesters or the insurrection. They just needed more Republicans in Congress willing to attack the lawful outcome of the election. In other words -- and, again, he`s saying this -- they just needed more authoritarians and would-be dictators supporters in our government.

Obama campaign veteran Chai Komanduri says the whole comparison here is revealing, because the Green Bay Sweep is not about strategy. Some sports techniques are, but, in contrast, it was always about pure power on the field, where the opposition realizes the sweep is coming, but they cannot stop it.

Komanduri says that matches the Republican Party playbook on brazenly using its power to kneecap voting rights or put Trump loyalists in posts, so they might cheat in the next election, and thus show power and dominance by undermining democracy in an open fashion, he argues.

And, of course, none of this is very original. It turns out, Komanduri points out, Navarro is only echoing other Republicans who invoked the exact same play, like Gingrich when he was speaker. And while Navarro is telling his version of the story now, there`s also evidence of how Bannon was talking at the time, contemporaneously, as the lawyers would say.

Here was Bannon before the insurrection. Actually, we found this of him speaking there on the fateful morning of January 6.


BANNON: I keep saying the mantra. You called the play. Now run the play, right? It`s like the old Green Bay power sweep. It`s very simple, very -- just one thing leads another, very logical, and the victory is affirmed.


A. MELBER: And now we turn to someone that we are indebted to for some of the points raised, the man I just quoted, a deep-dive conversation that only occurs here on a special day here on THE BEAT.

Even in the holidays, it is still known as "Chai Day." It is named after our next guest.

That`s kind of implied, isn`t it, Chai?

Political strategist Chai Komanduri, a veteran of several presidential campaigns, including the Obama campaign.

Happy holidays. Good to see you.

CHAI KOMANDURI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good to see you. How are you, Ari?

A. MELBER: I`m good.

We just quoted you. Walk us through this. Some of it seems a little bizarre, but some of it seems really important.


Look, the Green Bay Sweep is one of the most famous plays in the history of the NFL. The big idea that Vince Lombardi had was a play that basically the defense knew was coming. However, you could not stop it.

There is nothing you could do to stop the Green Bay Sweep. John Madden talks about, in the second Super Bowl, how demoralizing it was for the then-Oakland -- for the Oakland Raiders, then-Oakland Raiders, that they could not stop this play that was being run over and over and over again.

And this is exactly how Republican philosophy and Republican strategy works, particularly in the Trump era. We all know what Trump is going to do. There are no secrets as to what play Trump is going to run next. The issue that we have as Democrats and as people who care about democracy is, how do we stop it?

And I think what you see Steve Bannon was saying, what Peter Navarro was saying, what Newt Gingrich was saying was that what we want to do is telegraph all our moves ahead of time, and then watch as our opponents become demoralized with their inability to stop it.

We`re seeing this with voting rights across the country, where governors and Republican state legislatures are doing everything they can to make sure that the next election goes their way, that Trump loyalists are in place and that our democracy is potentially in tremendous threat and peril.


A. MELBER: So, in a way, it seems like they`re telling on themselves, that they`re confessing.

But, in another way, you`re arguing that, while that might be morally dubious, we should not confuse that with outright stupidity, because you`re saying they want to actually move the center of gravity, not only among hardcore right-wing Republicans, but among the rest of their potential supporters and others in American society towards what is basically a creeping authoritarianism.

KOMANDURI: Yes, I mean, it`s not -- a long as it`s not a secret and everybody sees it coming, people are more accepting of it.

I mean, as Goebbels said, the bigger the lie, the more likely people are to believe it. A big part of that is telegraphing the lie, making sure that everybody knows it, people keep repeating it. And the more people repeat it, the more likely they are to basically accept the lie and the preconditions behind it.

A. MELBER: Chai, leave it to you to bring a little Goebbels into our holiday season.


KOMANDURI: It was not my intention.

But I want to wish everybody happy holidays and a merry Christmas.


A. MELBER: Happy holidays.

Well, we laugh through the tears, as they say in some societies. It`s a Russian saying, among others. But you are speaking to the union of propaganda with oppressive or authoritarian governments.


A. MELBER: In other words, it doesn`t work as well, or at least the oppression does not take hold as easily in a society that still has a real grip on reality and fact-checking.

And that is why you see -- and you made one historical reference. There are many others where lies and propaganda are central to defeating people from that which they would otherwise often prefer, which is self-government, rather than living under tyranny, Chai.

KOMANDURI: Correct, yes.

And one of the things is, it`s not tyranny if you don`t know it`s tyranny. And I think that`s exactly what we`re seeing with the kinds of plays that Navarro and Bannon are talking about.

If we do it in advance, if people are equipped and accepting of what has to be done, then it will be done. Obviously, if state legislatures keep people from voting, if they put barriers that keep American citizens -- that make it harder for them to vote, it`s a way of basically selecting the people who are voters ahead of time. And it also helps make sure that their political goals are achieved with the least amount of interference.

Look, I mean, I have been in Democratic politics a long time. It`s never a secret as to what Republicans are going to do. What Republicans are going to do is very clearly telegraphed. The problem that Democrats always have is, they can`t seem to figure out exactly how to stop Republicans from doing what they`re going to do.

A. MELBER: Yes, yes, all fair.

Because it`s our end of the year, this is our last "Chai Day" of the year. I don`t know if you have done the math, but that`s a fact, Chai.


A. MELBER: Unless there`s a "Chai Day" you know about that I don`t.

So, given that we launched this segment this year, we have been reflecting on different things, I have heard from some viewers they appreciate your precision, the way you use the knowledge you have, the experience you have, and really tell us what`s up.

So I kind of wanted to zoom out with you here big picture for us for a second. Let`s just think back, as we look over the whole year we have had. Before the beginning of the year, the January 6 insurrection, it was an almost simpler time when the world was just awaiting the incoming Biden era.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Team Biden moves into high gear, launching today on first steps for the new administration, including a new COVID task force, and turns the page on a new era.

VAN JONES, CNN: Well, it`s easier to be a parent this morning. It`s easier to be a dad. It`s easier to tell your kids character matters.

JON MEACHAM, NBC NEWS HISTORIAN: What was on the ballot here was decency and democracy and empathy. And Joe Biden is particularly well-equipped for this moment.


A. MELBER: That was the mood going into really a year ago today, November, December, January.

When you, as a political expert, look at this year of politics and government, what are the big things that you think have changed?

KOMANDURI: Well, what Joe Biden has done is, he has basically returned us to the pre-Trump normal.

We live in a world where we no longer have to worry about the president doing mean tweets. We live in a world where we have a largely scandal-free administration where an infrastructure bill is debated, and passed and signed by the president with minimum fuss or drama or debate -- or at least the debate is democratic debate. It`s certainly not Twitter debate and insults back and forth of that nature.

So, he has really returned America back to a pre-Trump normal. I think the problem that he -- Joe Biden has and I think the problem the Democrats have is, we have not returned the world to a pre-pandemic normal. That is, I think, the big thing that is causing Joe Biden`s polls to decline, that has been the biggest weight that he has endured.


Everything that we`re experiencing now, we certainly experienced through the Obama era, including Joe Manchin. I certainly remember Joe Lieberman being very much a thorn in Obama`s side during the ACA debates.

However, the issue that Joe Biden has is, there`s an expectation that we will return to a pre-pandemic normal, not just a pre-Trump normal.

A. MELBER: Well, you know what Rick Ross says on the new album, Chai.


KOMANDURI: I do not, but I would love to know.

A. MELBER: They`re calling it pandemic, but it`s really life.


KOMANDURI: Well, I think, for Joe Biden and for Democrats, I think a lot of Americans do not want this to be their lives.

And I think we do need to, like, be aggressive about finding a road map out of the pandemic. I think, as your previous guests said, this might be the final throes of the pandemic. Let`s hope, for all of our sakes, it certainly is.

A. MELBER: Fair enough. We can hope towards the new year, Chai Komanduri, the last "Chai Day" of the year.

Always good to see you.

We have our shortest break of the hour now. It`s just 60 seconds.

When we come back, I have a special report looking at the Supreme Court and the question of not only whether Justice Kavanaugh lied under oath, but how that affects the way the court may rule on the biggest case in decades.

I will see you in one minute.



RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": We know what the purpose of this case is. And we know why Republicans picked the particular justices they picked to be on the Supreme Court.

So it is, frankly, a matter now of preparing for a return to American women having to seek out illegal abortions, instead of having the right to get one. We don`t exactly know when the court will rule, but there are pretty grave expectations for what that ruling will mean.


A. MELBER: And the extreme and restrictive Mississippi abortion law has many bracing for a reversal of Roe v. Wade, lawyers arguing before the Supreme Court in a case pending now that it should still uphold basically what the court wanted to do in Roe v. Wade.

But a lot of justices are looking to overturn that women`s rights ruling or even find that Mississippi ban violates the law because it is too restrictive.


A. MELBER: The court could uphold the ban, while claiming it is not overruling Roe in its entirety. I mention that because that has been a kind of misleading rearguard legal attack on choice that many conservative legal use -- legal leaders, I should say, have been using for some time.

The court could also strike down this ban and just keep Roe v. Wade as law of the land. The administration running the DOJ decides the formal U.S. position in these kinds of cases.

We have had Neal Katyal on this and many other MSNBC programs. He was the person who did that in court for Obama as solicitor general. And the solicitor general reports up to the attorney general.

The new attorney general, Merrick Garland, has been leading the opposition to these Southern state bans and accuses them of simply defying, denying and abrogating women`s constitutional rights.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The obvious and expressly acknowledged intention of this statutory scheme is to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights.


A. MELBER: That is just legally true. That`s not a debate.

The Supreme Court has long ruled these are constitutional rights. In fact, few members of the court will openly say that they will just ignore precedent or reverse that. In fact, you may recall this from all the Supreme Court confirmation hearings which get covered on TV and discussed around the country.

It has become kind of a weird baroque tradition for the even Republican appointees to say under oath all sorts of words about Roe being a type of settled precedent.



BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I understand the importance of the precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade.

AMY CONEY BARRETT, ASSOCIATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I don`t think that abortion or the right to abortion is -- would change even...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think some of the restrictions might change?

BARRETT: I think some of the restrictions would change.

NEIL GORSUCH, ASSOCIATION SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The Supreme Court of the United States has held in Roe vs. Wade that a fetus is not a person. That`s the law of the land. I accept the law of the land.


A. MELBER: That is the law of the land. All of that was recent. Much of it was under oath.

And that`s one reason why these conservative lawyers are trying to lob these pretty farfetched legal arguments for the court to -- and you know I try to keep it real with you -- to overturn Roe without overturning Roe, which just means overturning Roe without admitting it, which is the kind of sleight of hand that we are accustomed to in politics, but the Supreme Court is supposed to be above, and its members certainly claim they are.

As for accepting the law of the land, unlike other rapidly shifting and divisive social debates, the public also accepts this as the law too. Most Americans consistently believe abortion should be legal in most cases.

Now, there are still earnest and validly held religious and personal objections to abortion. Anyone familiar with religious traditions knows about that. So how can both those things be true? Well, the data shows most Americans do not think that even those earnestly held concerns should then be enforced by the government, any more than most religious people demanding that the government enforce the Sabbath. That`s just not a common view.

America was founded with the separation of religion and state. We are not a theocracy.

So, where do we all go from here? Well, some legal experts think, as Rachel said, that it is now a matter of when the court goes forward supporting these abortion bans, not if. We don`t know. We will follow the case and see where it lands.

But if that is true, then the choice movement will have to focus less on the courts, where precedents change over several decades, and probably focus more on the ballot box, where these laws are being drafted in the first place.

Women are still half the nation, and pro-women`s movements have been sparked by everything from the original calls for suffrage, to Donald Trump`s election by a male-dominated electoral plurality, not a majority, by the way, while Democratic women and women of color were crucial to the recent and record voter turnout in Georgia which flipped two red Senate seats blue and also demoted Mitch McConnell, ending his sway over Supreme Court nominations.

And, by the way, a lot of that Georgia mobilizing was led by a rising woman in Southern politics, Stacey Abrams.

Meanwhile, other elected women have continued to use their power not only to push reform and new laws, but to recount some personal stories in the Congress about abortions and women`s rights and present this in public to their colleagues, to the voters to try to make sure the reality for women is told by women and presented to everyone, in this case, by women in a position of power.

Now, against the reality of these very high stakes for women, there is also a new and churlish refrain you may have heard from the anti-vaccine right that tries to troll and mock these longstanding and heartfelt issues, opposing vaccines by saying, "My body, my choice."

Now, like so much of trolling on the right, it`s a deliberately hypocritical bit of political theater. And yet, as policy, it also inadvertently reinforces the very gender discrimination at play that these groups are warning about and urging the Supreme Court to fight against, because -- again, I`m just going to try to tell it to you in reality, in plain English -- in the vaccine fight, there aren`t any states using government power to legally ban the choice to decline a vaccine in your body.

Now, there are rules that might keep you out of a restaurant or a workplace, but it is most certainly your legal choice, man or woman, over your body to put a vaccine in it.

But, in Mississippi and Texas and this growing list of states, let`s be clear. The men in power -- I showed you, it was overwhelmingly men -- are already making it the opposite for women. The internal functioning of their bodies and medical choices is legally banned by the men in power.

And if the Supreme Court continues to green-light that, against 50 years of precedent, the next revolution may come, if at all, at the ballot box in deciding who should be making these choices about freedom for other people.



A. MELBER: Now, when we come back: new heat on Senator Rand Paul for his election lies.

And, later today, I mentioned to you we`re very excited, Dave Grohl from Nirvana and the Foo Fighters on THE BEAT talking about music creativity and Kurt Cobain. That`s later tonight.


A. MELBER: Republican senator Rand Paul is under fire for essentially embarrassing himself with a whole bunch of election misinformation.

Paul responded to a report that was pushed out by a conservative outlet about perfectly normal, lawful ways that people were trying to have voter turnout, specifically, Democrats in Wisconsin.

The steps included voting by absentee ballots or targeting and convincing potential voters to complete the ballot in a -- quote -- "legally valid way."

Paul posted that this is -- quote -- "how to steal an election."

That is what he`s pushing out there at a time when, of course, it`s his party that`s under fire, a little bit of projection.

Of course, this explicitly cites legally valid ways of voting, like registering or persuading voters. So, he`s saying it`s the other folks trying to steal elections, when, of course, that is the vulnerability on his side.

One Twitter user posted a photo of someone wearing clown shoes with the caption: "Here`s Rand Paul getting ready for work in the morning."


Someone else telling Paul simply, look, "Reality clearly eludes you."

And another said -- and this is a nice way of diplomatically telling him what he got wrong -- "Actually, that`s how elections work."

Senator Paul did not appear to be trying to get this kind of attention, but there he is.

Coming up, we have something very special before the hour is out, I`m going to have my parents with a cameo on THE BEAT.

But, before we get to that, we have Foo Fighters and Nirvana veteran Dave Grohl, music, politics, dealing with corporate America, all that coming up.



A. MELBER: Our guest today is Dave Grohl from Nirvana and Foo Fighters, an Emmy-winning director, 16-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

Thanks for being here.

DAVE GROHL, MUSICIAN: Good to be here. Thank you very much.


A. MELBER: I`m really excited to talk with you.

You have this book. Let`s start there, people very interested in all of the things you`ve done in music and also how you live your life.

And you write about joining Scream as a very young musician, which required disruptions within your friend group that played music, within your family.

What gave you the confidence to handle those disruptions then?

GROHL: You know, I started playing music when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old, and it quickly became this obsession.

And I started playing in bands when maybe I was 13, 14 years old. By the time I was 17, I had an offer to join a band that toured the world. And I went to my mother, who`s a public school teacher, and said, I have to leave school because I need to play music in order to survive.

And she said, OK, you better be good.

A. MELBER: And it sounds almost fearless, but you also write bluntly about fear in the book.

You say -- quote -- "I didn`t seem to fear physical consequences. I only feared emotional consequences."

Did you have any of those fears then?

GROHL: I did.

I mean, my father was also a musician. Both of my parents were musicians. My mother sang. She was a singer in a cappella groups in the `50s. And my father was a classically flautist.

So our idea of music was maybe a little bit different. So when I took off to hit the road, I knew that that would sort of drive a wedge between my father and I.

A. MELBER: You don`t share his entire professional world view, and you don`t share his politics. But what do you share with him?

GROHL: I am who I am because of my father. And though, yes, we had musical differences or political differences, I got my ear from my father.

I mean, I didn`t take lessons to learn how to play music. I could just hear it and then play it. I could pick up an instrument and sort of figure it out. And that comes from my father. You know, we both loved writing. We both loved music. We both loved culture and food and arts.

And so though, we were very different, we were the odd couple, but, later on in life, I think we both learned to really appreciate each other and became great friends. It was great.

A. MELBER: You come across as very grounded in who you are and how you`re navigating these worlds as an artist still in this global touring world.

You write about what you call being "raised in the ethically suffocating punk rock underground, conditioned to reject conformity, to resist all corporate influence and expectation."

Where do you go? How do you deal with the kind of success you refer to that came with Nirvana?

It`s such a great phrase, Dave, ethically suffocating punk underground. And in all kinds of fields, there is the aspiration, be moral, have integrity about this pursuit.

What about it made you call it suffocating? And what did you learn about finding your own balance?

GROHL: Well, the thing that I loved so much about the underground punk rock music scene was its independence.

And all of these people were doing it themselves. So there were no real big record companies. You would just go to a studio down the street and pay a couple hundred dollars and record a couple of songs, and then send that to the pressing plant, and they`d make some albums, and then you`d Xerox a copy for the cover, and then stuff it in the sleeve and go sell it to the local record store on consignment.

Like, it worked that way. The problem with Nirvana was that Kurt`s song were so good that we were raised in that scene where it was our secret. But then, all of the sudden, we become one of them. Like, what do you do?

OK, now millions of people are singing your songs. I can only speak for myself. I was the drummer. So I could literally walk in the front door of a Nirvana concert and barely get recognized.

You know, I didn`t have to bear the weight of the responsibility of being the front person of the band, which was difficult on Kurt, especially when you`re sort of rising out of that underground scene and becoming one of the biggest bands in the world. It`s hard.

So you have to kind of remind yourself of the reasons why you started in the first place. You have to remind yourself of the kid on the bedroom floor with the Beatles records. And that`s your best -- that`s the core. That`s who you are. And if the world starts singing along with your songs I think you have to -- you have to appreciate that, in a way.

A. MELBER: You write about and have talked about going through that searing experience, and, of course, losing someone, and that, for you, it made you more appreciative of life as a gift.


And people respond to loss, of course, many different ways. Does that also fit, do you think, into your music, or did that just ground you with how you live and really having a career, being a parent, et cetera?

GROHL: I think both, inevitably.

You know, I remember waking up the day after Kurt died and thinking, OK, he`s gone, but I`m still here? Like, that just doesn`t seem fair. And then it was just this process of doing everything all over again, like my first cup of coffee, my first trip to the grocery store, my -- the first time I pick up a guitar.

Like, you sort of learn to relive your life all over again. And I think that it was that day that I realized I`m lucky enough to be here, so I might as well take advantage of every day and the life that I get to live.

Even on the worst days, you know. I`m happy to be alive. And that was a huge moment for me. It changed my life.

A. MELBER: Dave Grohl, thank you so much for your time and your inspiring words.

GROHL: Thanks, Ari. It`s good to see you.


A. MELBER: A lot we can learn there.

And if, you`re interested again, the book is Dave Grohl there, "Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music," "The Storyteller."

Really interesting conversation.

Now, before the hour is up, I promised it, and it`s going to happen.

What you`re looking at here is my dad going through his vinyl records. This is airing for the first time ever on THE BEAT next.



A. MELBER: I want to wish all of you a very happy holidays and a happy new year as that approaches.

These are difficult times. We know that. But I hope you are getting to spend time with the people in your life, your loved ones or your family.

I can tell you, I always feel very lucky when I get to spend time with my parents. And we actually just did something we have never done before. We went through their vinyl record collection.

So I sat down with them here, asked them a few questions about some of these records that they have had really forever and that I remember growing up with.

We put this up on TikTok. So, shout-out to my dad you`re going to see sitting here, and my mom, who was off-camera, but participating.

Here`s a little bit of our discussion of their records.






B. MELBER: He was awesome.

D. MELBER: One of our favorites, Jimmy Cliff, "The Harder They Come."

Hey, truth-teller.

A. MELBER: Here`s, with the...

D. MELBER: It`s a zipper, yes.

The Stones -- the Stones were seen as sort of the bad boys.

A. MELBER: Right, real rock stars.

D. MELBER: The Beatles were the good guys. And the Stones had a lot of controversial lyrics.


D. MELBER: Hey, I`m in the basement. (OFF-MIKE)

B. MELBER: Right.

A. MELBER: Bob Dylan, "Nashville Skyline."

D. MELBER: Bob Dylan, yes.


D. MELBER: We don`t remember exactly when we got these. But it`s around...

B. MELBER: But Bob Dylan...


D. MELBER: Around 50 years ago.

B. MELBER: ... was a big favorite.

D. MELBER: Around 50 years ago.

B. MELBER: And he still is, actually, his old stuff.

D. MELBER: Hey, hey.

B. MELBER: Oh, that`s an early Aretha Franklin.

D. MELBER: Aretha Franklin.

A. MELBER: "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You."

D. MELBER: Great-looking hair. Yes. Yes. She was a legend.

B. MELBER: She`s a powerhouse.



A. MELBER: Lots of powerhouses, Aretha, Bob Dylan, the great Jimmy Cliff.

That`s what you get from the records.

Now, I also did briefly ask them about this world we`re living in. Vinyl record sales have actually skyrocketed over the past year. And I asked my folks here if they think that buying the record and having it at home brings you somehow closer to the music than today`s digital streaming. And we had a split decision.


B. MELBER: Oh, yes, I would. I think it...

D. MELBER: I don`t think so.

When I listen to that speaker or whatever, I feel just as good.

A. MELBER: Feel just as close to it.

B. MELBER: No, I`m probably more old-fashioned. And I like the idea of physically relating to the record itself.

D. MELBER: Happy 2022.


A. MELBER: Happy 2022.

And shout-out to my mom off-camera. She prefers the vinyl.

Now, if you want to see any more of this, I am new to TikTok. We like trying new things. You can go to TikTok @AriMelber. Go into TikTok or tell your kids, if they`re on there, to follow us, and to teach us how to do it, because we`re learning together. And I don`t have many followers yet. I`m just trying it out.

So go out and support us if you want. You might even see more of my family cameos, my parents or even my brother.

Now, I have to ask you all, since we`re doing this together digitally, did we miss any classics or iconic artists? Please let me know on social. Go to add @AriMelber on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or you can comment on that video with my parents on TikTok.

I and our team here, we will read your responses. We have done that before when we asked you questions. And who knows, some of them may make air. So, if there is a great artist in your record collection or C.D. or tape or streaming that we missed -- so, it can`t be Dylan, can`t be Jimmy Cliff -- tell us who it is and why you like them, especially if they have any political or social justice messages, because we have talked about that before.

I got some great messages from some of you guys about the music and the anthems that have taken you through decades of news and life and activism. So, share that with us @AriMelber there. Also, you can see up at the top go to You can sign up with your e-mail for my free newsletter.

Now, one more thing while we`re talking digital.

I have a tip for you to hear all of your MSNBC shows online, from Rachel Maddow, to Joy Reid, to THE BEAT, and this works even if you`re away from the TV.

Go to I will read that again, This is an MSNBC-wide program that allows you to hear any of these shows any time anywhere on any device. So, we wanted to tell you about that.

"THE REIDOUT" is up next with Tiffany, in for Joy.