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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 8/13/21

Guests: Andy Slavitt, Margaret Carlson, Betsy Woodruff Swan, Donny Deutsch, Dave East, Harry Fraud


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis faces pushback over his handling of COVID-19. Rapper Dave East and music producer Harry Fraud speak out. A new government bulletin warns of racially or ethnically motivated violence. New pressure is put on Facebook to crack down on the vaccine lies. Mitch McConnell`s playbook does not seem to be working against the Biden spending.



Hi, Ari.

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

And welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

This week is wrapping up with a string of victories for President Biden on that sweeping domestic and economic agenda we have been covering, including those bipartisan breakthroughs, which are so unusual, many are actually having a hard time getting their heads around Mitch McConnell backing Biden on the Senate floor, which happened, at least on some issues, this week.

This also reflects a possible split between some Republicans in government who may be waking up to Biden`s popularity with independents and a portion of Republican voters, at least on some of these domestic agenda items, a break between those Republicans and the rest of the MAGA base, who continue to not only oppose Biden at all costs, but to push the Republican Party deeper into a Trumpian agenda that opposes democracy and civic life itself.

When a major political party continually lies about or defends a violent attack on the government, which is a feature of our life this year, there are real world impacts.

And that brings us to the top story tonight, because we`re seeing news that is sad, that is disturbing, and that you need to know about, a new government bulletin warning of racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists who are pushed by -- quote -- "conspiracy theories on perceived election fraud, as well as the alleged reinstatement of Donald Trump."

Now, that is from the U.S. Homeland Security Department. It`s nonpartisan, and that term their, perceived election fraud, is their sort of clinical, fairest way they can say it, reference to Donald Trump`s repeated dangerous lies, which were weaponized for mob violence, with that mob of Trump supporters summoned by Donald Trump, who used the actual weapons, kind of a very literal weaponization.

Now, this is not going away by itself, even if people would rather think about other things. And DHS, by the way, they don`t love putting out politically related bulletins. They do it when it hits the bar of U.S. national and homeland security being pushed by politics, in this case, prominent Republicans, not all, but some prominent ones.

We also are seeing new reports on the ground that show the kind of things that are being mainlined today, like an allegedly criminal leak of passwords to secure voting machines that were handed over to a right-wing MAGA-sympathetic Web site.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Colorado`s Democratic secretary of state, Jena Griswold, believes Republican Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters is partially responsible for voting system passwords ending up online as part of a conspiracy theory to prove election fraud in Colorado.

JENA GRISWOLD (D), COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE: The voting equipment currently in Mesa County can no longer be used.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Griswold said video surveillance watching the machines had been turned off one week prior and stayed off until recently and that the county let a mystery man attend the upgrade, while passing him off as an employee.


MELBER: This is really happening.

Now, any time this happens at the local level, it`s not automatically national news. Tonight, we`re looking at it in the context of the DHS warning about political violence.

Now, the plot there, it looks like it was busted, from what we can tell in public accounts. The report suggests any attempted fraud there is coming from the MAGA side, who are the same people projecting and lying about other people allegedly committing voter fraud.

Now, that will be under criminal investigation. We will update you with anything we learn about what really went down. It is bad news for the Republican clerk involved, because, while she has every right to defend herself, we`re going to find out whether the investigation leads to her.

We should note she was just a featured speaker at a big lie summit sponsored by the MyPillow guy, because of course.

Now, these conspiracy theories are not just something in the ether, on the side, something embarrassing that you have to discuss at some family reunion from time to time. I want to tell you tonight, because we try to bring you the big stories, that this has now become central to the MAGA movement. It`s becoming a new litmus test that morphs and lies and absurdity into some kind of thing that Republican officials will have to answer to prove themselves.

It`s -- and I`m about to show you an example of this. It`s a thing where rabid, maybe confused political randos anoint themselves the judge and jury for actual Republican elected officials who may know something about elections because they at least participate in them.

Here`s a Republican congressman dealing with a heckler discussing the 2020 election.


REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Don`t kid yourself into believing that`s why we lost. It`s not. It`s not.


CRENSHAW: And I will tell you openly.



CRENSHAW: I`ll tell you.

I`m not wrong.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have plenty of proof. I have proof in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.


CRENSHAW: Five different states, hundreds of thousands of votes?


CRENSHAW: You`re kidding yourself.


MELBER: Spoiler alert: That guy does not have proof.

But here`s the wider context tonight, as we end the week where there were breakthroughs in Washington, but there is an actual warning from DHS about political violence.

The Republican Party and its candidates got fewer votes in the last seven of eight presidential elections. The U.S. census has now released its new nonpartisan data. And it`s making this headline, which was on the front page of today`s "New York Times," which fits into this context, America growing more diverse during this past decade.

And it documents a shift that many know about anecdotally, the overall population of America has slowed in terms of growth, but -- quote -- "the number of multiracial Americans more than doubled."

And the report finds the white population declined for the first time in over 200 years. Now, take how this plays out on the ground like a state that`s considered red, Texas.

But Republicans are trying to suppress the vote. Why would they be doing that in such an overwhelmingly red state? We have heard about red it is. Well, people of color make up 95 percent of the population growth, as that white share of the population falls.

Now, with those trends, combined with the current platforms of these two political parties, it would seem that the Republican Party faces a binary choice between evolving, at least a bit, to appeal to a changing electorate, which is what democracy usually entails, or losing many future elections.

That`s a binary. But it turns out -- and many experts and analysts have been warning about this -- that we`re seeing a mainlining of the Republican Party trying to find, well, not this way or that way, but a third way, lying about its losses, suppressing democracy itself, so it can win rigged elections.

And maybe that`s why so many of its leaders talk about fraud and rigging so much. Maybe they think everyone else is just like them.

Let`s bring in our experts here, as we start a big Friday show, Margaret Carlson from The Daily Beast, Betsy Woodruff Swan from Politico, and Donny Deutsch, host of the podcast "On Brand With Donny Deutsch" and a familiar analyst to many of our viewers.

First of all, good evening, everyone.

Second of all, Donny, I come to you first as a branding expert. The Republican Party would seem to have a branding problem if it was dealing with all customers or all voters. Is it concerning to you, as an American, not maybe which party you root for, but as an American, how much there seems to be a mainlining of this other crap?

DONNY DEUTSCH, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Of course, it`s concerning.

I mean, you can`t be level-headed person with a heart or brain and not be concerned about the assault on democracy, which you guys cover religiously, as well you should.

Look, going back to that census, you saw the white population go from -- drop six points in a 10-year cycle, go from 64 to 58 percent. In another 10 years, it`ll be just about even. Actually, the white population will be the minority in this country.

And that is stoking the fear. And that is stoking the ethnic racial attacks that you have talked about. And the problem the Republicans have, they are in a death spiral.

Even if -- if I was czar of the Republican Party right now, and I was able to call everybody into the room and say, hey, guys, look, this is a losing proposition, we can`t go down this hole, the problem is you still have primaries.

And in the primaries, the 20 percent fringe vote. And the 20 percent fringe vote are closer to the heckler than they were to Congressman Crenshaw. So, they`re in this kind of unfortunate death spiral, in that they`re a victim of the electoral process.

The only hope they have, if they were smart, they would -- they would point to a growing fringe on the Democratic side. For the first time, a Morning - - a YouGov/Economist poll showed that a majority -- this is really stunning. If I was running a Republican`s campaign, a majority of Democrats favor socialism over capitalism.

I want to say that again. A majority of Democrats favor socialism over -- and that`s the brush I would be painting. I would obviously move to the middle, push the Democrats to the left. No genius thought there. The problem is, they have the Electoral College. They have primaries to deal with. And they`re in a death spiral.

MELBER: Right. Right.

And you`re talking about ideology.

Margaret, Congressman Crenshaw is known to be quite a staunch conservative. He`s not being heckled because he`s not conservative enough, in that view. He`s being heckled because he`s not lying enough.

MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: No, there`s only one test. And it persists, even though Trump is gone. And that test is, are you going to go along with Trump`s lie, or are you going to say Joe Biden`s president, or is he illegitimate?


So, they don`t have the freedom -- most of them don`t have the freedom to come right out and say there wasn`t any fraud, 60 courts showed it, and you`re believing -- you`re believing something that just isn`t true, because Trump will primary them.

So the Republican Party, as the Republican Party, isn`t in charge of the Republican Party. So they can`t read the census and do anything. They can`t make any course corrections, until they banish Trump, because he controls - - he controls the party still, because -- partly because they let him control the party, but also because that campaign of his has gotten so deep into that group of people, along with all of the other conspiracies, that somebody like Dan Crenshaw speaks out and just quietly says something that we all know to be true, and he`s lambasted for it.



BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, POLITICO: I spoke with a federal law enforcement official later -- earlier this afternoon about the DHS bulletin that you highlighted at the beginning of this show.

And one -- he made two points that I thought were interesting and important. First, in that terrorism advisory bulletin, it points out not just that these conspiracy theories are being pushed by domestic actors, but also that governments that are adversarial to the United States are actively working to spread the same theories.

And what that tells you is that America`s adversaries recognize that these conspiracy theories, particularly regarding COVID-19 and the vaccines, present an actual danger to the United States, and therefore are beneficial to countries that want to harm the U.S.

The fact that domestic actors in the U.S., knowingly or unknowingly, are working in tandem with adversarial governments is something that really concerns senior DHS officials.

And one other point that this law enforcement official made that I think is really important is that, privately, a major concern the Department of Homeland Security has is about U.S. public figures, including politicians and national media figures, who also amplify those same conspiracy theories.

It`s not something that the department talked about in this advisory bulletin, in part because the DHS works really hard not to be explicitly political, but, behind closed doors, senior officials in the United States government are concerned about the extent to which people who have substantial clout among the far right in the United States, among that large swathe of voters we have been talking about, are amplifying the same dangerous conspiracy theories that governments that are adversarial to the United States are also pushing.


Betsy, appreciate you bringing your reporting and analysis to that.

And to build on that, I mean, you`re saying something that I think makes intuitive sense, but just to unpack it, DHS is always in a tricky position here, because they really have only their credibility with regard to the bulletins. They do other patrolling.

But they don`t want to be seen as, rightly or wrongly, picking favorites or scolding individual members of Congress who, for example, also do oversight over DHS. So it`s a little tricky. So, as you say, they really go out of their way not to be seen in that role.

And yet, as I mentioned in my setup, because I don`t work at DHS, I`m an independent journalist, I can say that when they talk up the danger of pushing election lies, it sounds to me -- this is me talking -- like a reference to Donald Trump and his acolytes and just how dangerous that can be, which is distinct from what we said and reported, say, on November 10, which is that you have a right to exhaust court challenges, and this is rule of law, and it is OK to go to court and see what happens.

That time is over, which is why Donald Trump`s attacks on all of the traditions of a civic rule of law country have such a bad hangover.

And so that the follow-up to that, Betsy, which I`d love you to build on, is, you did a lot of coverage as well of the Mueller report and looking at foreign intelligence operations. And there was a time then when -- maybe it was a slightly more naive time -- people said, oh, well, how bad can it be pushing around some stuff online? It`s not the same, for example, as taking over a state ballot site.

And it is different. It is not as physical. But it would seem that, in the views of DHS and a lot of others, and we have seen this around the world, if propaganda takes hold in a bad enough way with authoritarian-leaning individuals in government, it can be quite physically dangerous, Betsy.

WOODRUFF SWAN: It`s bad enough for the United States that our adversaries invest significant amounts of time, money and energy in continuing to do it.

There`s a reason Russian efforts to shape public opinion and perception in the United States didn`t let up. It`s because a large part of the Russian operation in 2016 actually worked. They sowed dissent. They sowed anger. They sowed distrust in American institutions. That`s why other adversarial governments are also participating in this type of action.

Another thing, to your point about the fact that DHS has to be very careful about what they say publicly, they absolutely do. Privately, DHS officials will often be a little bit more candid.


One thing I can tell you is that I reported a few weeks ago that, in a private briefing, that DHS` top counterterrorism official gave to members of Congress behind closed doors, that official said explicitly that they were worried about the possibility of violence on the part of Trump supporters this month...

MELBER: Right.

WOODRUFF SWAN: ... because -- again, because of the conspiracy theory that Trump was about to be reinstated, a conspiracy theory that`s been touted by Mike Lindell.

Publicly, DHS is not going to say, we`re worried about Trump supporters. But, privately, when they`re speaking in more candid moments behind closed doors, it`s something that they`re not shy to explicitly talk about.


CARLSON: So, Ari, my...

MELBER: Yes. And you mentioned the MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell.

Margaret, yes, I was going to say, I`m running over on time. So I want to give you the final word, Margaret, with one minute.

I did want to get an a jab at Mike Lindell, which is easy. I mean, he`s as intellectually strong as his pillows soft. But it tells you where we are in America that so many things keep coming back to the MyPillow guy, who has nothing to do with figuring out who won an election.

Final thought to Margaret, please. Go ahead.

CARLSON: But he`s probably spent half his fortune, if not more, from those soft pillows on trying to prove that the election was stolen. And he`s expecting Trump to move back in.

Now, you and I are almost off for the day, but he`s got six more hours for Trump -- those moving trucks to pull up from Florida, and Trump go back in there. That`s how gullible some people are. He`s like one of those students who went to Trump University, real estate guys, spent their savings and came out just with a lousy picture of Donald Trump.

He was taken in by the conspiracy so deeply that he changed his life over it. I have a little bit of sympathy for him. He`s not a liar like Rudy Giuliani, who said he was just faking it, remember, in the FBI interview? He`s just faking it. He knew he was lying.

Mike Lindell is gullible and taken in. So I have some sort of sympathy for him.

MELBER: Sure. Yes, I understand the point you`re raising. And it`s been referred to as -- quote, unquote -- "useful idiots" or other terminology.

And, obviously, responsibility ranges, based on who`s doing the plot and who`s being taken in by it. I think there`s a lot here.

What I want to do is thank Margaret and Betsy.

Donny comes back later on something special.

So, I will see you again, sir.

And coming up, we have a lot more.

New pressure on Facebook to crack down on the vaccine lies. It turns out there`s reporting that Facebook`s worse than FOX News. We will explain with an insider from the Biden White House.

Also, the MAGA governor, Ron DeSantis, well, he basically has to back down on one COVID issue. We will explain.

And then McConnell`s playbook not working against the Biden spending.

We have a lot coming up. Stay with us.



MELBER: We have good news and bad news on COVID.

Yesterday, we can report that upwards of almost a million people got their vaccine shot. That is the highest daily rate in a month. Infections, though, on the other hand, still on the rise, and kids are getting sick.

The number of children going to the hospital has jumped 30 percent in just the last week, affecting parents and families everywhere.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Going in without masks is very scary, because I wouldn`t want anybody to be in the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re taking every precaution to keep our son safe and everyone around him. That`s clearly not the case for everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you mix the mask-wearers with the non-mask-wearers, it puts everybody at risk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wish the state of Tennessee would get their crap together and actually do a mask mandate.


MELBER: Meanwhile, the reason that some people may be making decisions that are not safe for themselves and their children is not just that they want to do things that are risky, but, rather, that they may have fallen victim to misinformation.

Earlier in the program, we were discussing electoral civic misinformation, but misinformation about the virus is spreading, Facebook, now removing 65 of its own accounts and another 243 on Instagram for this theory that`s going around about the vaccine changing you into an animal.

So, some of this stuff, you can`t even make up. Now, this week, we did some special reporting on this because we have been trying to take the issue seriously and not put anyone in any particular category. It is OK to have questions about the vaccine. It`s OK to read something and ask about it. A lot of people don`t necessarily watch the news as much as you do.

I can say that because you`re watching the news right now, or I do, because I work in the news. There are people who hear something on Facebook or they get vaccine-hesitant. We spent time this week discussing this issue with people from vaccine-hesitant families who went on to embrace vaccines.

They were discussing how sometimes they don`t know who to listen to.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My own meeting was a very mixed message. And I just think people really didn`t get the message that masks are important and vaccines are important.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have so much rumors in the streets. It`s going to change your DNA, you`re going to get sick, you`re going to die from the virus -- I mean, from the vaccination.

It`s so many unclear rumors.


MELBER: Is anybody doing anything about this? What`s going on at the White House? It`s not MAGA land anymore. Are they actually going to put heat on some of the places that are pushing this misinformation?

Well, they have been. A former White House insider, according to "New York Times," was on this as far back as March -- that`s right in the first few hectic weeks when they were taking over at the White House -- saying Facebook would become the number one story of the pandemic because the vaccination misinformation was going to be the problem.

That was in a "New York Times" account this week that was fascinating and important.

And that individual, a Biden White House veteran, Andy Slavitt, joins me on THE BEAT when we`re back in 60 seconds.



MELBER: We are back with Andy Slavitt, former White House senior adviser for COVID under President Biden and a veteran of multiple administrations.

Thanks for being here.


MELBER: Let me put again what "The New York Times" reported in this account, which had a lot of insider information.

Zuckerberg calling Ron Klain, Facebook under fire. Back in March, Slavitt - - that`s you -- delivered this warning: "In eight weeks` time, Facebook will be the number one story of the pandemic."

Walk us through what you can about why the Biden White House was so concerned about Facebook, and, according to "The New York Times," why Facebook, at least at that juncture, was lackluster in dealing with lies on their platform.

SLAVITT: Well, it was pretty clear, even as we were trying to get vaccines out to the country, that we were also going to have to deal with the fact that, at least at that point in time, only 40 percent of Americans even said they wanted to take a vaccine if they got it.

And when we got behind it all, we learned what we can now report, which is that, of people who have decided not to get vaccinated -- this is today now, heading into today -- two-thirds of them believe one of five major falsehoods, such as that the vaccine itself will give you COVID-19 or the other things that are equally untrue.

And when people are asked, where did they learn this from, their number one response is social media, and the number one response is Facebook. And what Facebook`s especially good at doing is, unlike just blaring out lies, trumpeting out lies, it`s very good at taking an algorithm and finding the person who has a little bit of doubt and a little bit of question.

Maybe they`re -- let`s say they`re needle-phobic -- and say, gee, is the needle big? And what you get presented with is a giant needle. Now, if you and I were on Facebook, Ari, we probably wouldn`t see a lot of the misinformation and conspiracy theories because the algorithms wouldn`t present them to us.

But the people that are most susceptible, Facebook is very good at delivering that target.


SLAVITT: And that`s the problem...


SLAVITT: ... deal with.

MELBER: Yes, you`re walking through the targeting, right, that it`s -- from a public health perspective, you`re getting right to the heart of it, that they go to the most informationally vulnerable people with the worst information, and they make money all the way.

Yes, my targeting, you know what I keep seeing? I see ads for Khala (ph) and a lot of rap album advertisements. So I don`t know what they know about me, Andy.

But, in all seriousness, another headline people need to see, we have shown Tucker Carlson`s misinformation, but look at this study that I know you`re familiar with, that, basically, people are more anti-vaccine if they get their -- quote -- "COVID news from Facebook," even more so than FOX News, according to the data.

So, you in the White House put the heat on them. Have they gotten any better? What grade would you give them now?

SLAVITT: Well, they`re still failing, unfortunately.

And the reason that I say they`re failing, it`s not because -- look, if they were trying -- and I think they`re trying to a certain extent, but if they were really trying, they could solve this problem.

And the way that I want them to solve the problem is the following. What percentage of people who are not yet vaccinated are seeing misinformation your Web site? And can you reduce that by 80 to 90 percent?

And they will not share with the White House enough data to see if that`s true. They won`t share the denominator. They will tell you things like, we have -- they will emphasize all of the good information. They will say, we point everybody to the CDC.

The problem is, only people like you and me see the good information, or other people see it, but it`s at the top of the screen. But the information people are looking for is the most dangerous information. And they have yet to come to the table and say, we`re going to make a commitment.

And, look, if this was about their business or about their profits, they would figure out how to do it. Remember, they`re not just in the ether. They`re not the Internet. They`re a company with a product.

And with that product, they sell your attention to advertisers. And they make money at that. And so the way they -- they got to be responsible for the attention that they attract. They have to be responsible. It`s their product. They can`t say, well, it`s First Amendment, it`s this, that.

It`s not a First Amendment issue. It`s an issue of them presenting things that aren`t true to people in order to make money at it.


MELBER: Yes, I think you break it down well.

That was quite an article in "The Times." People can check it out. And you`re a health care expert. It`s not, to my knowledge, that you`re trying to quarterback every Web site in the world, but during a public health care crisis, making sure that people get accurate information.

Andy Slavitt, thank you, sir.

SLAVITT: Thank you.

MELBER: Ahead, we have an update to a story of accountability. We have been all over MAGA`s Ron DeSantis in Florida for reason. Now he`s caving on a COVID issue. We will explain.

And Biden going big on spending, while McConnell tries to play the socialism card. Why isn`t it working? We will tell you.

Stay with us.


MELBER: There is a lot going on, but the thing that might have the most impact on your life over the next years is the president scoring two big wins on two spending plans that total over $4 trillion, trillion.

The Senate is advancing both measures, which sets the stage over a major war over the direction of this country. Republicans who supported part of the Biden plan in the Senate are also pushing what they think will be a way to sway the public against it.


SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): It looks like Bernie Sanders now controls the party. It`s systemic socialism. It`s exactly what he`s always proposed.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): The Democrats` radical train, their freight train to socialism.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): We`re playing with fire here.


SEN. MIKE BRAUN (R-IN): It`s like we`re growing a fraud business here at the federal government.


MELBER: There you have it. The talk of socialism is how Republicans are trying to brand big spending.

And this is a long-running war that touches on both government policy, which matters, substance, as well as style.

Now, Democrats have grappled for a long time with what they at least perceive as a political risk in going anywhere near the socialist label. Of course, many popular policies do deal with what in Europe would be called democratic socialism, which is different than, say, Soviet-style socialism.

But all of this was playing out -- and I want to be clear here, as we look at the issue. It`s not just what some Republicans are saying. The truth is, related issues were also a tension among Democrats in the 2020 campaign.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bernie says -- and he says he wrote the damn thing. But he`s unwilling to tell us what the damn thing is going to cost.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): I don`t want to blow up the Affordable Care Act and kick 149 million people off their current health care in four years.

BIDEN: Look at the numbers. How much is it going to cost? Who`s going to pay for it?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): South Carolinians...


MELBER: We`re back with Donny Deutsch. He knows about branding. He`s interested in politics. He has "On Brand With Donny Deutsch."

Thanks for coming back, sir.

DEUTSCH: I`m still kind of getting over Facebook targeting you with Khala (ph) and hip-hop ads. I think that`s a demo of one. I love that.


MELBER: Well, I`m glad you`re listening. Yes.

I mean, it sounds like a joke. It`s partly true.


MELBER: This is interesting for someone like you, because you know all about marketing and branding to a degree that there are politicians who are years behind you.

You are basically a liberal capitalist, or you can call -- tell us what you call yourself. So you are a really interesting person here. What do you see with what the Democrats are up against, now that they`re putting trillions down and fighting this, again, with that socialist label looming?

DEUTSCH: They have a problem.

Look, any time you pass major, major, major legislation, like any Democrat that voted for the Affordable Care Act, in the following election that followed, they lost -- there was an 8 percent difference, 8 percent difference between the ones that hadn`t passed it. So they`re going to be vulnerable.

The irony is, there is a lot of good stuff in there. But as I touched on in the first segment, the Republicans have an opening. If they would just stop talking about stealing the votes and the inaneness and say -- here`s the thing -- say, we have got inflation coming. Prices are going up. We have got border problems.

Biden, a lot of our people are arguing about what he did in Afghanistan, although Trump, we know, wanted to do exactly the same thing. You have got the crime story that you can tell. And when you put in socialism and overspending, that moderate middle, those suburban voters that went heavy blue can sway back.

So there is a problem. They`re doing the right thing, the Democrats, but the Republicans, although it makes my stomach, makes me nauseous, the way they`re spinning it is the right way to spin it.


So Democrats are going back on recess. They have in mind exactly what you just said, Donny. They don`t want the Obamacare repeat, where you win on substance, but you lose on short-term politics.

How would you advise, since you have done this with plenty of your other clients, Democrats or even some of those Republican senators who also decided they wanted to do something, to defend a couple trillion down right now?

DEUTSCH: I would say, are you better off -- the old thing, are you better off today than you were four years ago? And there`s a lot to point to.

The unemployment numbers are way down. Even if COVID continues to rear its head, if he does and he deals with it empathetically -- if Trump had done that -- Trump didn`t lose because of COVID. He lost because of how he dealt with COVID.

MELBER: Right.

DEUTSCH: And if you talk about jobs, and you talk about bridges and you talk about broadband, here, we`re doing it for you. This is consumer-based stuff.

If you want to call doing what`s right for people, call it whatever you want. I just care about you and your kitchen table and putting your kids through college and keeping your job and putting food on the table.

So you have got to stay with the meat...


DEUTSCH: ... and really not let them sway you with the sizzle. It`s the analogy you were talking about, Ari.

MELBER: Yes, that makes sense.

Donny Deutsch, one of our white-collar analysts around here -- I say that because he`s always wearing a white collar.

Have a good weekend, Donny.

DEUTSCH: Good to see you, my friend. You stay well.

MELBER: Yes, sir.

Coming up: There is a reckoning for Florida`s MAGA`s governor. This matters.

We will show you the facts after this.



MELBER: New pushback and a new reckoning for Governor DeSantis.

He has been the leader of a partisan MAGA-style COVID response that`s failing in Florida. There`s an exploding caseload there. DeSantis has been on a crusade, though, still against safety measures.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): There will be no lockdowns.

We can either have a free society, or we can have a biomedical security state.

So too would the Martin County school system find a way to provide parents with a meaningful choice.

Let me tell you this. If you`re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I`m standing in your way. I`m not going to let you get away with it.


DESANTIS: Make America great again.


MELBER: Yes, that`s Ron DeSantis.

Among the many controversial moves he`s made is, he tried to ban schools` ability to have people wear masks and then said he would withhold the earned lawful salaries of officials who stood in his way.

Well, there was a lot of criticism from his own constituents. There was lawsuits. There was concern about safety.

A reminder of the stakes. Four Florida educators working in that same school district where this fight is going on just died from the virus within one day of each other this week. That`s what`s going on.

Now DeSantis is partially caving, his office saying, well, the threat was empty anyway. DeSantis doesn`t even have the power to withhold those salaries, although that`s what he publicly threatened.

Politico says it`s a tacit acknowledgment that he legally can`t do what he was threatening to do, as you just saw in some of those clips.


Now, DeSantis still says he won`t allow schools at a local level to require masks. But he cannot financially retaliate against these precautions. Two school districts are already on their way to defying DeSantis, regardless of what the courts decide.

We are seeing the beginning of a reckoning. Where it goes from here, as this state suffers, we will keep an eye on it.

We`re going to fit in a break, but we`re going to end the week with something very interesting. There`s been a big union push to organize at Amazon. And we`re going to get into why Jimmy Hoffa is actually back in the news.

Stay with us.


MELBER: There`s a big new push by unions to try to organize inside Amazon.

It`s one ray of light for labor, as national membership has been cratering for decades. We are really a long way since a figure like Jimmy Hoffa wielded outsized political power and captured the public imagination as president of the Teamsters union.


He was long linked to mafia figures. Hoffa disappeared in 1975. And it remains an unsolved mystery to this day, stoking all kinds of intrigue and interest. The long dead power broker was recently portrayed by Al Pacino in Scorsese`s "The Irishman."


AL PACINO, ACTOR: We are the biggest and best and most honest union in this country.

Where are we going to go but up?


ACTORS: Hoffa! Hoffa! Hoffa! Hoffa! Hoffa! Hoffa!


MELBER: Those were the chants.

And there is something about this man, how he lived, how he died, the era that he seemed to embody that captivates people to this day.

Now, take Harlem rapper Dave East, who`s been on THE BEAT before. His brand-new album "HOFFA," created in collaboration with producer Harry Fraud, this project drops on the anniversary of Hoffa`s disappearance. And it`s packed with archival sound bites from the real-life FBI search for Hoffa.

And the song titles range from the disappearance to Red Fox Restaurant. That`s the place where Hoffa was infamously last seen alive.

The album cover imagines Dave East as Hoffa, and it shows an iconic moment that we have for you right here. There`s Dave Hoffa, the real Hoffa, and, with a similar water glass poised right in front of him, Pacino`s Hoffa. Looks like art imitating art imitating life.

And we have a very special surprise here on this Friday.

Dave East is back on THE BEAT tonight. He`s got many projects to his credit, including "Survival, "Paranoia," and 2016`s "Kairi Chanel." He`s been a friend of THE BEAT. We even got a chance to hang out.

I want to show everyone this because I loved meeting his daughter. There we are.

Also joining us, music producer Harry Fraud, who`s worked with all kinds of names, not only with Dave East, but with Mobb Deep`s Prodigy, The Weeknd, and Rick Ross.

Thanks to both of you for joining me tonight.


DAVE EAST, RAPPER: Thanks for having us.

MELBER: Yes. I`m happy to have you both.

Dave is an alum.

So, Harry, your debut. I will go to you first.

What makes Hoffa relevant today? You guys making music for young people, who may know less about him.

HARRY FRAUD, PRODUCER: I mean, I think it`s just his story was so intriguing to us.

I mean, I think the fact that he was such a man of the people, for the people, that really, like, kind of was relatable to us, in terms of the music that we make is really for the people. And on top of, the kind of mystique around his disappearance and his ties and what was going on behind the scenes was so interesting.

And us both being guys from New York, and, obviously, anyone from New York has an uncle or a cousin or somebody in the union of some sort. You know what I mean? And coming from working-class backgrounds and stuff, it was just such an interesting, intriguing tale for us to kind of connect to our music and lend as a muse. You know what I mean? Kind of act as a muse for us.


Yes, it`s interesting you say that, especially you mentioned working class, because we`re in an era now with a lot of inequality, people thinking about, how do you organize power to deal with power, whether that`s the government, the police, or corporate power.

Before we get into "Fallback"s, because it`s the end of the week, Dave, what did it mean to you? What should we take from seeing you as a type of Hoffa on the album cover, man?

EAST: Oh, like Harry was saying, his story always intrigued me.

But, like, just the way that he vanished, the power he had, for somebody to be that influential to that era and to the union and to just America, to just vanish like, that always, like, was like an ill story to me.

And they still speak about it in 2021.


EAST: Like, I just named my latest album after him. So, I felt like that itself is dope, because, whatever he did, he did enough to where he`s still being spoken about. You know what I mean?

So I kind of relayed that to the music. I want to be able to do enough in this where I`m spoke about forever. You know what I mean? Harry is going to be spoken about forever.


MELBER: Well, you`re...

EAST: He`s already the god. I`m trying to get there.


FRAUD: Appreciate it.

MELBER: Well, you guys are both pretty popular.

Harry is spoken about, obviously, in two languages. "La musica de Harry Frau," who can forget that?


MELBER: But it`s interesting.

It`s interesting what Dave says, because the story -- I mean, Dave, you`re a storyteller.

EAST: Right.

MELBER: And when you have a story like Hoffa`s that ends with a big mystery and intrigue, that seems to keep it alive.

I have got viewers who I know lived through that story and watching the next generation think on is wild.

We do these "Fallback"s in the week. So let me jump to that.

We will go back to Harry.

What`s on your "Fallback" list?


FRAUD: Well, when I had -- the Shoe Palace raffle situation was pretty crazy to me.

When I had seen that, it was -- it kind of brought me back -- and I know Dave remembers this -- of when Jordans was coming out when we were younger. And there was always those stories you would hear of, oh, be careful buying the Jordans. Somebody might try and steal them from you or do something to you for them, and boom, boom, boom.

And then when I saw that pop up, I mean, it was just heartbreaking to me, because, obviously, not to get too crazy with it, but it`s just the society that we are living in places value on the wrong things right now, you know what I mean?

MELBER: No, and I appreciate you with -- you have followers and fans, using your platform to try to push back against this, the violence and whatever - - whatever motivates someone to do that.

What about you, Dave? What`s on your list?

EAST: Oh, I think the man Biden need to fall back, man.

I see he snatched the troops up out of Afghanistan. And I think he`s just leading to a lot of innocents being killed. You know what I mean? Like, I feel that -- I`m Muslim. You know what I mean? So that`s really affecting. It hit me.

When I seen it, I`m like, why he do that? So I feel like, yes, we need to fall back. There`s a lot of innocent youths being killed. That goes on all the time. But I feel like certain actions they take, it`s a direct response. You see the response immediately.

You know what I mean? So, Biden, fall back.

MELBER: Yes, I think that`s absolutely a tough -- it`s a tough situation over there. We were covering that on the news last night, as you mentioned, the foreign policy challenge. And if you leave a void, who gets hurt?

EAST: Right.

MELBER: A lot of people debating whether being over there was the right decision in the first place for so long, but definitely a tough one, an important story.

I think BEAT viewers know I happen to be a fan. So that`s a transparency thing, we call it in the news, but it`s great to have you back on here, Dave.

Congratulations on the new album.


MELBER: Harry, I hope you will come back, too, sir.

FRAUD: Appreciate it, my bro.

MELBER: Yes, sir.

And, everyone, here again is that album cover, so you can check it out, stream it, get it wherever you get your music. The album is "HOFFA," out now.

There you have it.

And finally tonight, we do want to do one other thing, an update to a story we first brought you about injustice in America, also related to music.

The Philadelphia artist Meek Mill, you may have heard of him, a successful rapper and entrepreneur, but he found himself thrown in jail not for an actual crime, but for a supposed parole violation when he drove a motorbike at a music video shoot.

Now, that case was a reminder of how U.S. mass incarceration works, how it grinds people down, how it involves documented discrimination and often a rush to imprison even law-abiding people in a cycle of fines and parole violations.

Now, in that case, a more senior judge tossed the initial ruling, which set Meek Mill free after he spent five months in prison, AKA, five months in prison for no crime that he didn`t commit.

It also underscored how a wealthy, famous black American, even with top- flight lawyers, is still subject to the whims of this system. That`s one of several reasons we had him on THE BEAT. And he debuted a new song, "Mandela," today. It`s about triumphing over those experiences, and even showcases a little bit of his time on THE BEAT.




MELBER: That`s just a little bit of that new song, that anthem, as Meek is explaining how he took the adversity, persevered and turn it into something better.

And, obviously, we`re happy to be involved, if he thinks that going on the news and telling us not only about his case, which he did, but how we might all look at problems in the justice system that we don`t hear about as much with other people -- that`s part of the project he was doing -- well, we can all learn something from that.

So, shout-out to the project. And thanks for having THE BEAT in the music video for a moment.

Now, before we go, I will tell you, you can always find me online @AriMelber. We`re continuing to get your answers to a question we posed this week. What`s the best music protest song of all time? You can tell me @AriMelber on any social media.

And, as always, you can connect with me or subscribe to my free newsletter at

That does it for us. I will see you back here Monday night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.


Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Hey, my friend.

Listen, if you score the Meek Mill interview, we are going to have to fight, because I`m going to -- we`re going to fight for that interview. We`re going to have to have a negotiation. It has to be your lawyer. We`re going to negotiate.

I would love to get that interview. Could we do it together?

MELBER: You know what? We just -- we had our other artists on together, producer and rapper.

I would love to do a joint interview of Meek Mill with you. It would be my honor, Joy.

REID: Officially, we have pitched that just now on national TV. Let`s do it.

MELBER: There it is.

REID: Let`s do it.

MELBER: To the world.

REID: Perfect. All right. Perfect. Have a great weekend. Thank you. All right. Cheers.