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

Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 8/19/21

Guests: Esther Choo, David Duchovny, Howard Dean


Evacuations continue in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover. ICUs become completely overwhelmed in red states as COVID surges. Did Sean Hannity own himself on vaccines? A bomb threat hits Capitol Building. New information emerges in the Matt Gaetz probe. David Duchovny talks his music and conspiracy theories.



Hi, Ari.


I would like to actually ask you something, because you are in on our upcoming show tonight. Do you have a moment?

WALLACE: Of course.

MELBER: It is all quite a big deal, what everyone is going through this week, looking at Afghanistan. And it is as complex dilemma.


What we have planned tonight is, where you made a clear point of where the public stands. And I was watching you. This was when President Biden making the first address to the nation this week.

So, we had this teed up. And then I said, well, let`s play it for Nicolle here. This is what you said.


WALLACE: Ninety-five percent of the American people will agree with everything he just said; 95 percent of the press covering this White House will disagree.

And for an American president to finally be completely aligned with such an overwhelming majority of what the American people think about Afghanistan is probably a tremendous relief to the American people.


MELBER: I thought it was really striking.

My question for you is, is this true as the week goes on? And if yes, why is it hard for people in D.C. to get it?

WALLACE: Well, I don`t want to blame either side of the equation.

But there are different considerations. I think the national security establishment, including current and former national security officials, will always look at pre-9/11 Afghanistan with trepidation and trauma. I talked to Mary Trump today. There`s real trauma there in looking at the history of Afghanistan.

Now, there`s all sorts of other history that suggests that a military operation was doomed for failure. And that might be the history that I think President Biden relies upon.

But regardless of all of that, the American people lost enthusiasm for this effort more than a decade ago.


WALLACE: And so my old boss was still president. And rallying public support for the faraway effort, there was always a little bit more for Afghanistan than Iraq. But this too was viewed as an extremely difficult place to put our men and women.

And, I mean, I said it there. I stand by exactly what I said. If anything, it`s borne out as exactly that dynamic. And I`m sure you see on social media our viewers are enraged. They feel that this is a pile-on.

Now, responding to just those reactions is the gateway to something resembling FOX News. We stay on the story and we cover the facts. And the White House understands that.

But the White House feels that this dynamic is also very true, that this war-weary public is with them. But they are acutely aware that even some Democratic stalwart allies on Capitol Hill do not see this the way Joe Biden does.

MELBER: Yes, I think you laid it out exactly. And it is an interesting sort of friction that we`re continuing to see, which is why we have a report on it tonight.

So we thought, well, if we`re quoting Nicolle and using some of Nicolle`s premise, we will just run it by Nicolle.

But thank you, as always. Appreciate you.

WALLACE: Thank you. Thank you so much. I`m so flattered. Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Thank you.

Our coverage does continue now, on this top story, as mentioned. Evacuations are continuing in Afghanistan, 7,000 people leaving since Saturday. We have those many tragic scenes at Kabul Airport, after all of that now stable; 5,000 U.S. troops are in the city. That`s the reinforcement force needed to get the U.S. completely out of Afghanistan, while the incoming Taliban is facing protests and some flag-waving.

But as these days grind on, everyone can see there are tragic costs of leaving. There is a logistical nightmare and a political vacuum, which puts this country right back in the hands of the Osama bin Laden-protecting extremist Taliban leaders who the U.S. ousted after 9/11, as we were just discussing with Nicolle.

Now, that`s part of why Republicans think they can seize on the Biden move, which was, of course, built on Donald Trump`s Taliban deals and his own exit plan. And now Republicans are claiming this will be Joe Biden`s putative defining setback.


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): This is this is President Biden`s Saigon moment.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): This is going to be a stain on this president and his presidency.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): You go to hell, Mr. President.


MELBER: That may be all the expected politics.

But as Nicolle and I were just discussing, and what I want to get into you right -- with you right now in our top story, is the broader reflex across Washington among national security leaders and many in the press, which narrates our wars and how they start and how they end, to really lean into a kind of a hawkish critique of this withdrawal.

Take one of the respected journalists whose headlines and stories can define presidencies inside Washington, "The New York Times" Washington correspondent David Sanger, Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard graduate. He`s the author of three foreign policy books.

He`s listened to, for good reason. But his take, what he`s writing here is that the withdrawal and the sad images this week will saddle Biden with a problem that can overshadow everything else, so that despite Biden`s vaccine march, and engineering surging job growth and the bipartisan infrastructure bill, everything about America`s last days in Afghanistan shattered the imagery.

"Defeat," screams that headline as well.


As for that national security establishment we were discussing, well, take one of its eminent leaders, the founder of the influential Eurasia Group, Ian Bremmer, talking about the risks of this fallout right now destroying - - quote -- "destroying" Joe Biden`s presidency.


IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: What if we have a hostage crisis? What if we have a firefight? What if Americans get killed? What if we ended up not being able to get all these Americans out? That destroys Biden`s presidency. And there is a real chance of that happening.


MELBER: Anything is possible.

But the thrust of these quite common D.C. arguments is not really about what would be perfect foreign policy, but, rather, whether this exit policy will somehow destroy or shatter or define the Biden presidency in the eyes of the entire American public.

And so this can be partly fact-checked, or at least mixed with some evidentiary proportion, which is what we try to do around here, you know, journalism.

So, as we grind through what is a tough week, by all accounts, with a lot of tragedy, I will tell you here`s what the evidence suggests. Even though most Americans have horror the Taliban and see there are real downsides to this tough decision, there is a ton of support for the withdrawal policy, and for basically lightening the entire U.S. footprint away from these long wars.

The share of people who agree with President Biden that this war became unwinnable is higher than what the public thinks on a range of big divisive issues these days, from elections, to COVID policy. You can see here, 62 percent of Americans agree with Biden`s view there on the unwinnable war not worth fighting.

New polls taken during the fall of Kabul, when some of those worst images were coming out, still show more Americans, far more backing withdraw. Ditto for a poll just yesterday after the Taliban was officially in charge and during a week when all this criticism of the U.S. exit was everywhere.

So, any pollster or political scientist can tell you, these kind of numbers are a floor, because they come amidst this toughest part of the actual logistical withdraw. It is not like, historically, we see the public randomly shift to wanting to reengage and re-invade a country when they have left already, when the U.S. footprint is light.

Historians say that kind of shift tends to only arrive from a big new external event, like a major terror attack. Other things can change the dynamics.

And few people specifically predicted 9/11 or this pandemic. But given the track that America is on, we have evidence to see that the public does want out of these kinds of wars on a bipartisan basis.

Now, I`m just doing the news. So there may be valid policy reasons or national security or experts in different regions want to debate the best foreign policy. But, as Nicolle and I were discussing, Washington elites who often cheered along for every Middle Eastern war they were offered, will have to come up with something better than claiming that this week`s exit at the level of public opinion in the American mind will somehow define and saddle President Biden`s entire time in office.

For further perspective, we`re joined by Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, also host of "Fireside History With Michael Beschloss" on Peacock, and Howard Dean, who is known for many things. He ran the DNC. He was governor of Vermont. But he also, in a very key way, if everybody wants to remember, really reoriented the Democratic Party`s views on these type of wars, starting with a much trickier at the time political position against the Iraq War.

He also wrote in the liberal "Nation" magazine about leaving Afghanistan as far back as 2011.

Given that, I turn to you, Governor, first.

Your thoughts on what Nicolle and I were discussing, what she flagged, and what does seem to be a real ongoing fissure between some of the people who really shape our foreign policy at the professional levels and where the public is as they look at what President Biden did, making this hard call?


Secondly, this is the issue, maybe even including the three of us and everybody else that you quoted, including David Sanger, who I have a lot of respect for. We`re all part of the inside-the-Beltway bubble.

MELBER: Me too.

DEAN: And I always say that Washington is middle school on steroids.

And this is the kind of talk that gets people tired of reading "The New York Times." This is nonsense. The polling is right. This will be a nonissue in five or six months. I called for getting out of Afghanistan. Look, I think -- I supported George Bush when he went into Afghanistan because I thought we needed to get after some Osama bin Laden and a group that was higher -- that was sheltering terrorists.

But we botched this war right from the Bush administration through the Biden administration. We made deals with corrupt warlords. We made deals with corrupt politicians. The United States is always doing this. We pick our guy and then he`s our guy, whether he`s corrupt or not.


And that is the biggest mistake that was really made. That`s why we lost the war in Afghanistan. That`s why I said 10 years ago we should get out, because we were -- the execution was not -- it was not a military execution that was a problem. It was the execution of the very same people who today are claiming that Biden was wrong.

Biden is right. I don`t like what`s happening. But Biden is right. Four successive administrations have screwed this up by making friends with the wrong people.


DEAN: We have done it before. We did it in Latin America.


DEAN: And the American people are with you, Ari, and not with the inside- the-Beltway crowd.

MELBER: And you mentioned the history.

We will take it to the historian. Take a look at many of these presidents. Here you go.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re starting this drawdown from position of strength. Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We got to get out of these endless wars and bring our folks back home.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on August 31. The drawdown is proceeding in a secure and orderly way.


MELBER: Michael?


I think that I can`t disagree with a word that either you or Howard have said, because you look through history, wars that are successful in the American experience are wars that are understood and supported by a majority of the American people.

That has not been true of the Afghanistan war for at least 10 years. You have had presidents, just as you have been showing, Ari, who have been, at best, ambivalent about it. And for us to risk lives, not only risk lives of Americans, but our allies and the Afghani people who have been so helpful to us and helpful to the cause of freedom, and to just keep on extending this, knowing that this Greek democracy that George W. Bush aspired to in Afghanistan, the only way there`s anything close to it is because of enormous expenditure of American dollars and lives of our soldiers.

That is not something that can go on forever. And so Joe Biden did something that most presidents don`t want to do, which is, he made an unpopular decision.

At the same time, we have all seen those images of the evacuation the last number of days. None of us would want to see that happen ever as a result of something that America or an American president did.


BESCHLOSS: It`s getting a little bit better.

But, looking in history, 1956, there was a Hungarian uprising against the Russians. It was crushed. Many people said that we Americans had encouraged that and had some responsibility. There were 170,000 refugees from Hungary. We Americans did a lot to take them into our hearts.

Richard Nixon, believe it or not, even considered adopting a Hungarian orphan, he was so moved by what he said -- what he saw when he went to visit with the refugees in Vienna. After the fall of Saigon, 1975, 130,000- plus refugees came out of Vietnam.

And anyone who thinks that that was a smooth or easy process just is not remembering what happened.

MELBER: Yes. Yes.

BESCHLOSS: Take a look at the difficulties that people had in getting out and getting into the United States.


So, Governor, I have a minute left.

Do you see the president steady as he goes, or does he come back out, in your view, tomorrow, next week, and be more defiant about what the White House on background is telling everyone they see as really criticism that`s out of step with the public and the costs that the U.S. has already paid?

DEAN: No, I -- the president`s got the American public behind him. The question is, how can we handle the refugee thing? We really got to get a lot more than 5,000 to 7,000 refugees out.

BESCHLOSS: Right. Right.


DEAN: We have got to get -- I think the number is closer to 130,000, when you add up the Americans, the Europeans and the Afghans who helped us and their families.

MELBER: Yes, an important policy point as well. This is a tough one. We don`t have all the answers. But we don`t want to just take automatic answers necessarily.

So we try to give viewers some perspective. And I think the historian -- Michael, you sounded like super historian today, just whipping through stories we don`t know...

BESCHLOSS: Thank you.

MELBER: ... some of us don`t know.

BESCHLOSS: Doing my best to...

MELBER: And Governor Dean, who, again -- yes, sir.

And Governor Dean, who really did change the axes of the Democratic Party. It was Dean and then Obama, and suddenly you had a different foreign policy. And yet it took all this time to get out of Afghanistan.

Thanks to both of you.

Let me tell viewers what we have coming up tonight.

ICUs completely overwhelmed, and this is largely in red states. So we will show you the link to Sean Hannity and why he just owned himself on vaccines.

Later, Capitol Hill bomb threat today, the suspect threatening President Biden himself and echoing some very familiar rhetoric.

And, later, we have an update on that Matt Gaetz probe.

Stay with us.



MELBER: The COVID health crisis has turned to a health messaging crisis, because what was once a largely unstoppable virus can now be stopped, experts say, if enough people are vaccinated.

And as this new Delta surge puts new intense heat on people pushing, well, the opposite health message, some did change course. Last month, FOX News` Sean Hannity was widely noticed for what seemed like a change in his approach to the virus.

Now, he shifted back. But I want to show you this, because we know from the public record Sean Hannity doesn`t even believe some of what he`s saying. Here is how he used to sound.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Please take COVID seriously. I can`t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don`t need any more deaths.

It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccination.

I never told anyone to get a vaccine. I have been very clear. I am simply not qualified. I am not a medical doctor.


MELBER: That was just within a few days.

Now, the Biden administration is urging people to get vaccinations. They`re calling on employers to take a bigger role. They are worried that this will get a lot worse if the numbers don`t get higher for vaccines.

And FOX News` Sean Hannity is out here. I just showed you the reversal. Now he`s gone even further, pushing what is essentially misinformation, twisting certain pieces of information about how the vaccine works.



HANNITY: Now that we -- the science shows the vaccine will not necessarily protect you. It`s not protecting many people.


MELBER: No, that is false, and he`s stating it like it`s a premise as a lead-up to a question with, well, the mini-Trump in Florida.

The vaccine actually protects many people. That`s the whole point experts have emphasized.

As for the piece of information, that some people get vaccinated and can still have the coronavirus, either without symptoms or with some symptoms, the breakthrough cases are still estimated to be roughly less than one out of 10. And when you do get them, the whole point is you are unlikely to get severely ill or die, which means the vaccine is working.

And yet saying "I`m not a doctor" seems to be the new talking point over at a place where people can`t keep their talking points straight.


STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS: If your kids are over 12, you probably ought to get the shot.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Right, or see a doctor, decide what you want to do. That`s what usually people go to for medical advice, doctors.

DOOCY: I didn`t go to a doctor before I got the shot.

AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS: That`s your choice.

KILMEADE: Well, that`s your decision.

DOOCY: Absolutely.

KILMEADE: That`s your decision.

But I don`t think anchor should be recommending medical advice.



MELBER: Yes, because that`s the channel over there that never tells anyone what to do, like vote for Trump or you name it.

Now, it is your decision. That part, we could all agree on if we`re being fair. The president also, to be clear, is not even saying he`s considering trying to do anything that would mandate the vaccine federally.

So, when we talk past just these talking points, make the decision for yourself or this or that, let`s talk about the whole issue of the public health crisis. Get the public health facts and then, yes, decide for yourself.

Here`s some facts. COVID is getting way worse. The COVID today, the Delta variant, is worse than last year. That`s why Alabama`s out of ICU beds; 36 percent of its residents are vaccinated. It`s a problem there.

And out of those hospital patients, 12 percent vaccinated against the coronavirus. So, 88 percent of the patients in Alabama`s hospitals, where this is going on, are the unvaccinated. They`re the people that doctors are trying to help by saying, hey, if you were vaccinated, it`d be far, far less likely you would be in the hospital right now.

So you need the facts. And, by the way, I mentioned doctors and medical experts and the science and the CDC, but you don`t even have to take the experts` words on all of this. You could just listen to Sean Hannity -- well, Sean Hannity during that brief moment in July.

Let`s get into it, as we said, on the facts. We have two experts here and we`re back after our shortest break in 60 seconds.


MELBER: We`re looking at the vaccine public health messaging crisis.

And we have someone who knows all about public communication, MSNBC columnist and writer Laura Bassett, and, on the health side, Dr. Esther Choo, an E.R. physician and professor at Oregon Health and Science University.

Welcome to you both.

Doctor, your thoughts on all the above. We just ran through it.

DR. ESTHER CHOO, FOUNDER, EQUITY QUOTIENT: Yes, it`s been really frustrating on this.

And our ICUs are filling up, as you mentioned, in Florida and the Southeastern states. But, really, this is becoming a problem across the United States. I have spent the past couple of days in meetings making sure that our triage criteria for ICU beds is ready to go, because we are rapidly approaching the stage where we have two or three or five people for every ICU bed available.

All of them truly need it and deserve it. And we`re going to start having to make those heartbreaking decisions about who actually gets it, because we are simply out of beds. Unvaccinated patients` percentage remains high across states. And, of course, people are behaving as though COVID has gone away.

In addition to that, we`re still doing a lot of catchup care for the last time that we were overrun with COVID patients. So we have lots of patients in general who need care.



CHOO: And we are running out of room. We have run out of room in a lot of places.


CHOO: So, very frustrating to continue to hear messages that work against our ability to take care of people for any condition.

MELBER: Right, because misinformation is dangerous here to the listener.

Laura, on that note, FOX News mandates their employees get vaccinated, their viewers not so much.

LAURA BASSETT, MSNBC COLUMNIST: Right, of course, they mandate their employers and employees to get vaccinated. All the hosts that are sitting there spreading misinformation, sowing just even little tiny seeds of doubt about the vaccine, about the booster, about masks, they`re all getting the booster, getting the vaccine, wearing masks, because they know that it works.

And it`s just incredibly frustrating to watch. And I`m going to say it`s on one side. It`s Republican pundits and it`s Republican politicians throwing public health under the bus in order to score political points. This should not be a partisan thing. People are dying.

The Republican Party calls itself the pro-life party, and it doesn`t seem to care that people are dying.


And, Doctor, I mean, we have a headline on the screen that sounds provocative, but is true, and I just want to underscore it. Well, we will go back to it in a sec.

But it basically says "FOX News to employees, get vaccinated now." There it is. "FOX to viewers, vaccines may not work."

Anyone who`s outside of the sheer bubble of only watching FOX -- let`s say they like some of the programs. Fine, I don`t care. They have got to notice this contrast and think, wow, the public health information I`m getting from this channel is not designed for my best interests, while they protect themselves in their building.

CHOO: Well, hopefully, that will make people stop and think for a second, because Hannity and other hosts themselves say, I`m not a doctor, I`m not qualified to make the call on this.

Well, that`s fine. There`s plenty of doctors who are willing to come on and make the call for their viewers. But I think what happens on the employer side is that they have liability if their workers are actually coming in and they`re exposed to risk. And they know that. So they`re making the scientifically sound decision.

I do think, to clarify, that I`m not sure that they`re actually mandating vaccines, but they`re mandating documentation of vaccination, which often comes down to the same thing.

MELBER: Agreed. And appreciate the precision there.

The doctor says liability, Laura. We`re running out of time. Liability might apply to a lot of Sean Hannity`s vaccine information, in the sense that he lies a lot. He has the ability to lie. It was a lying pun. I apologize.


MELBER: But, Laura, your final thoughts here on the fact that, this time, the misinformation is really damaging.

BASSETT: The misinformation is really damaging.

As we spoke earlier about the statistics are clearly, clearly showing the people in ICU beds, the people in the hospital, the people on ventilators are, by and far, unvaccinated people. And so you don`t have to listen to Hannity. You don`t have to listen to Ari Melber. You don`t have to listen to doctors.

Just look at the facts for yourself.


BASSETT: If you don`t have the vaccine, you are way more likely to end up on a ventilator in the hospital and way more likely to die.

MELBER: Exactly.

I hope people are listening. You just nailed it, both of you. But how do you learn things, knowledge or experience? You don`t want to learn about this through personal experience. We have covered too many people dying and too many young people still fighting for their life on ventilators to do it that way.

So you have to do it through knowledge. Doesn`t mean, as you said, single source. You don`t have to take one doctor or one anchor or one publication. Go look at all the sources. Look at all of it. Look at the CDC. Look at the knowledge and then figure out whether it goes a certain way for you or not.

I think that`s so -- it`s so key. And it is, as you said, a high-stakes thing for the people involved.

Laura, Dr. Choo, thanks to both of you.

I want to turn to something else. There was a bomb threat at the Capitol today that`s very important. Thankfully, it`s not bigger news because it didn`t get out of hand. But we want to explain the threat, the suspect and just where the language is coming from. That`s after a break.

Also tonight, stay with us for new details in the Gaetz sex crimes probe.

And later tonight, before we`re done with the hour, well, I got big news. David Duchovny himself is here. We`re going to talk everything from UFOs to politics, if we`re lucky -- a live interview coming up.



MELBER: Turning to the bomb threat that set off a massive police response.

This was in the heart of our government. This afternoon, a man who claimed to have a bomb outside the Library of Congress, which is near so many important federal buildings, surrendering to police. This was after hours of tense negotiations, and people didn`t know, of course, how seriously to take it or where this would go.

Police identify him as 49-year-old Floyd Ray Roseberry. The suspect actually livestreamed this incident on Facebook from his own truck. Here is some of that video as he pulls up to the sidewalk.


FLOYD ROSEBERRY, SUSPECT: Guys, I found me a place to park.

All right, guys, looks to me like I`m getting ready to make a phone call.


MELBER: There are also videos posted online where he makes a series of anti-government allegations and conspiracy theories, also says Joe Biden should resign.

This comes seven months after pro-Trump rioters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol. It also comes amidst a recent intelligence report that warns of the rise of domestic terrorism and experts raising the alarm about the threat of malicious white supremacists and political language that can be echoed and be a big problem when people take it seriously.

For more context, I`m joined by Frank Figliuzzi. He`s a former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI. He`s also an MSNBC national security analyst.

Thanks for being here.


MELBER: Appreciate it, Frank.

Let me start with what we always note, which is, this is early stages of investigation. So we were carefully giving context to different broad warnings. The authorities will take, as you know better than most, more time to really do diligence on motivations, on whether someone is unstable and all of that.

With that in mind, I want to ask you the broader sense of what do you take from an incident like this and the other reports that we are being warned that this political style rhetoric can lead to violence.

FIGLIUZZI: Context is important here, because, otherwise, we likely would not be talking about a relatively minor, successfully resolved incident in downtown D.C.


So that`s not what we should be focusing on. We should be focusing on the environment that has caused the Department of Homeland Security to issue a couple of warnings in the last few weeks, saying there`s a perfect storm developing -- that`s the intelligence analyst terminology -- of grievance and a sense of cause and anger that seems to be related to an increase in chatter on extremist violence sites that they`re monitoring.

I can confirm through teams of analysts that I associate with, they`re seeing the increase in chatter. They`re even telling me that it`s approximating the increase before January 6.

What are the grievances that are angering people? Look, the perfect storm consists of anger at mask mandates, anger at potential vaccination mandates, and the country turning from blue vs. red to vaccinated vs. unvaccinated, a sense that Ashli Babbitt, who was killed at the Capitol, her death needs to be avenged, she`s some kind of a martyr.

And now add to this mentioned today by this guy in front of the library of Congress the Afghanistan situation. It`s a kind of online radicalization that`s occurring. Who`s inciting this? Some of our very leaders in Congress.

You need look no further than a statement released today by Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama about the incident today in D.C. What did he say? I understand where the anger is coming from with citizens who want to fight dictatorial socialism.

That`s not a helpful statement. Nor was the statement of Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who said, "I guess the Taliban are the only people who are building back better," to use a phrase from Biden`s campaign.


FIGLIUZZI: These people are not helping. They are inciting. And there`s rally coming up this weekend in Alabama with President Trump.


FIGLIUZZI: There`s a permit that`s been granted for a major rally in D.C., right?

MELBER: Let`s look at one of these rallies. Yes, Frank, let me put one of these rallies up for viewers` context here.

The Capitol Police, which, of course, have been through so much since January, they`re preparing for what`s being dubbed a -- quote -- "pro- insurrection rally." Police concerned that this September 18 pro- insurrection rally at the Capitol, law enforcement officials fearing an event with thousands of people could devolve quickly into violence, to which we say, of course it could.

As someone who both is a journalist and once practiced First Amendment law, I will strongly advocate for people`s rights to speak and gather and say even controversial things or things that many people might find hateful. They can criticize the government. They can criticize the police, et cetera.

There is a clear line, though, if they are organizing to violently overthrow the government, which is what insurrection means. How concerned do you think law enforcement should be when we see references to being a pro-insurrection rally, which is distinct from being anti-Joe Biden or anti-government police, whatever? Seems getting right to that line.

FIGLIUZZI: Yes, these groups, this rally, they refer to themselves as the Justice For January 6. They think that people arrested for January 6 are political prisoners.

And, again, as you say, the irony here is, law enforcement needs to protect Americans` abilities to exercise right of assembly, free speech. We need that to happen. At the same time, they have got to weed out, who here is going to turn violent? Is there an agenda here? Are there going to be infiltration from those who would want to wreak havoc in D.C. again?

The law enforcement is stretched to the max. They have got to get this right. And the threat will expand beyond D.C. to other cities, as you see violence break out at school board meetings and anti-mask folks. It`s happening everywhere, hence the DHS warnings.


And, as you said, Frank, the import here is not trying to draw too many conclusions from the successfully resolved incident, but really looking at what`s coming at us as a nation.

Appreciate your perspective and experience, Frank Figliuzzi, as always.

Up ahead, as promised, we have the update on MAGA favorite and Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz`s sex crimes probe.

And, later tonight, before we`re done here, I promise you David Duchovny will tell us everything.

Stay with us.



MELBER: Scandal-ridden Congressman Matt Gaetz is taking a kind of a pro- Trump tour on to Iowa. This is tonight.

And he will be with a very controversial member of Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene. They call this an America First rally. And they`re trying to distract from some of their other problems or criticisms and also rally people for the midterms, or at least part of the Republican Party that buys what they`re selling.

Now, Gaetz remains under investigation for possible sex trafficking. He`s addressed the scandal at rallies before. And he says he`s some kind of -- quote -- "marked man."


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I`m a marked man in Congress. I`m a canceled man in some corners of the Internet. I might be a wanted man by the deep state. But I am a Florida man. And it is good to be home.



MELBER: That is a little peek at how he is trying to spin or contextualize what is a difficult situation for any politician.

Now, in terms of the reporting, we can tell you he has adamantly denied all of the allegations against him that relate to the sex crimes pro. He also has this video podcast platform after losing out on what were frequent FOX News appearances because he had a really weird interview with Tucker Carlson, and he`s had these other public scandal issues.

So, earlier this month, he went on and bashed FOX News.


GAETZ: I have many friends still at FOX News, and I enjoy our discussions, whether they`re on air or off air.

That said, FOX News isn`t what it used to be.


MELBER: Well, they certainly aren`t what they used to be in terms of hosting him so frequently.


Now, as for the guilty associate here, Joel Greenberg is awaiting sentencing. Now, we can tell you that the timelines on these things and trials and courts, they fluctuate.

So, today was actually originally the sentencing date, which means we would have heard a lot of information, potentially. But a federal judge has delayed that now. So it`s moved to mid-November. And that was at the request of Greenberg`s lawyers, because they said he wanted to have even more time to cooperate as much as possible. That`s how much he`s turned.

And, as people understand, cooperation could give him a lighter sentence.

Now, we also have seen some indications about the nature of the cooperation, giving investigators Venmo and cash app transactions, a cache of photos, videos, social media accounts. And the question remains, whether those will implicate anyone else criminally.

To be as fair as possible, we can`t say and we don`t know yet.

Now, I`m going to fit in a break, but we have some very special stuff coming up.

First of all, New York is celebrating what they`re calling a return to normal, at least for the vaccinated. And we`re going to tell you why people are calling this the next round of a famous concert in the park.

Also, I talked about it, I meant it, and, yes, it`s true. We are thrilled to have the great David Duchovny live on THE BEAT -- when we come back.




DAVID DUCHOVNY, ACTOR: Do you believe in the existence of extraterrestrials?

GILLIAN ANDERSON, ACTRESS: Logically, I would have to say no.

DUCHOVNY: Now, when convention and science offer us no answers, might we not finally turn to the fantastic as a plausibility?


MELBER: Prompter`s frozen.

David Duchovny, icon, from FBI Agent Mulder and "The X-Files," a two-time Golden Globe winner, a four-time Emmy nominee. That really adds up.

He is a writer. He`s a producer. He`s a director. He is a novelist and something we also appreciate around here on THE BEAT. Did you know he`s a singer/songwriter? Actually, his third album dropping tonight at midnight. It`s "Gestureland."

David Duchovny, we have so much to talk about. Thanks for coming on THE BEAT.

DUCHOVNY: Ari, thank you for doing what you do. You and your lineup over there got me through four years of the previous administration and one year of the pandemic.

And I do -- I did notice that you like to quote lyrics. And I`m just hoping that I can get a lyric that`s decent enough for you to throw into some of your discussions. So, that`s been my fantasy for a while. So, here we go.

MELBER: Hey, then your fantasy is a very low bar, sir.


MELBER: I don`t know that other people that I have quoted have given it thought either way. So that`s actually a very sweet thing for you to say, flattering and all that.

And so while we want to get to other stuff, because the album drops tonight, we love getting into new music, and I bet, I bet -- I can`t say, but I bet some of your fans and viewers here want to hear it, let`s hear a little bit of your new album. Here we go.




MELBER: A stupid orange man in a cheap red hat.


MELBER: Tell us about your art and your politics here.


DUCHOVNY: Well, that song -- I wanted to get that song out before the election. That came out in November. And we kind of rushed it, just because it was of a time.

And I had never really written a song that was pointed like that, but I felt it was necessary, or it behooved us to get -- get on the record, at least at that point, and say -- I don`t really believe in celebrities trying to push votes. I don`t really believe in it, to be honest with you.

But I just wanted to go on record saying, OK, this is how I feel. And if you look at the lyrics, it`s more introspective than just name-calling. It also put some of the blame on myself and on those who turn away and those who don`t get involved.

So, the name-calling was satisfying. But in the end, I don`t feel like that`s the most powerful part of the song.

MELBER: Well, it walks a line between thoughtful and furious.


MELBER: And I`m betting a lot of people feel that way.


MELBER: And songs and art can sometimes capture a moment or a politics or problems in a way that`s different than the rules of other debate. We certainly know that.


MELBER: I got to ask you, given the endurance of "The X-Files," what do you think about America`s relationship with conspiracy theories and the difference between enjoying them for fun and art, which is great, and some of what we`re up against right now?

DUCHOVNY: Well, I think it`s a deeply human need, right?

We have a need for the story to make sense. That`s -- I mean, we`re here. It doesn`t -- it doesn`t matter what your religious conviction is. To me, God is a way to make the story makes sense as well.

But my sense is that we`re here in this chaotic life that may or may not make sense, but we, as humans, need to have a story that comforts us, even if it`s a horrible, paranoid story. We need to feel like we are vital within that story, and we`re fighting for what we believe in, or else none of it makes sense, or else it`s just hollow.

So, I guess I have great sympathy for the need.

I have great distress over the stories that are being embraced right now. I feel like bad writers are involved in this storyline in many ways.



DUCHOVNY: They`re not just bad writers. It`s very old playbook.

I mean, it`s out of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."


MELBER: What do you think the -- what do you think of the writers room at QAnon? You think they could use some help?


DUCHOVNY: Yes, well, I think they`re leaning heavily on "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and all that crap.

It`s really -- it`s old.


DUCHOVNY: It`s tired. It`s been around forever. And it`s bullshit still.

It`s a bad story. It`s a story that diminishes all of us. I`m all for telling stories that enlighten and that they bring us up. I don`t think that they`re true either. But they`re better stories for us to tell one another as we are spending time on this planet together.


And, as you say, the stories we tell are so vital. It really gives us the way we organize the world, how we think about it. That`s why it`s so important.

David, we had this crazy busy news day. We have a lot going on. I appreciate you helping us round out this hour with the time we had. I would love to get you back on THE BEAT. You`re also open invite to come to a "Fallback Friday."


MELBER: And we will keep an eye on the lyrics for quoting them, sir.

DUCHOVNY: That`s what I wanted. That`s what I wanted out of this appearance. And here we are. Let`s go.


MELBER: And there it is. Let`s go.

And I`m going remind everyone, here on THE BEAT, we are music fans. David`s new album, with some of the songs we talked about and some brand-new songs that you will hear for the first time, "Gestureland," drops at midnight tonight.

Our special thanks.

Now I want to turn to the other update I mentioned in our newscast tonight, COVID Delta surging in so many places, but New York is actually celebrating a relatively high vaccination rate, especially among seniors, and what many are billing is a return to normal for at least the city`s vaccinated. It includes dining, events, and now a giant concert in Central Park this Saturday that`s being dubbed a homecoming of sorts.

The city turned to the legendary record executive behind everyone from Paul Simon to Whitney Houston, Clive Davis, to lead this massive effort. He just joined me to talk about why music and events like these are so key to how societies can rebound.

This is brand-new. Here`s what he told us.


CLIVE DAVIS, RECORD PRODUCER: Music is a great messenger.

When you look back at history, music has played such an important role. I mean, how did we penetrate the Iron Curtain? Somehow, it was music. It`s no surprise that, in order to communicate to the rest of the world, New York, the culture capital of the world, melting pot, cultural theater, ballet, music, is ready to reopen.

Theater will get back in a few weeks. And, hopefully, following all the health safety guidelines, we will all get through this pandemic, which has been so devastating.


MELBER: Pushing people to wear masks or get shots is one thing.

Reminding them why it`s a good idea to beat the pandemic and really live again is another.

Now, as for this big night on Saturday, Mr. Davis actually previewed some of the plans, while keeping other cards close to his vest.


DAVIS: It will open with the New York Philharmonic playing two songs. Keep it a mystery. I`m in show business. There will be a rock segment with Elvis Costello, with The Killers, with Patti Smith, with Bruce Springsteen, with Paul Simon.

With respect to rap, with respect to hip-hop, we will have Polo G. But then there will be a rap segment, a real quite novel rap section, where LL Cool J (INAUDIBLE) some of the great New York iconic rap artists.

MELBER: It sounds like an amazing lineup. We will see whether LL plays "Don`t Call It a Comeback," because that might fit this moment.


MELBER: That`s just some of our conversation.

And let me tell everybody, for anyone near New York, this is this Saturday in Central Park, the We Love New York Homecoming Concert at the Great Lawn, with tickets at Ticketmaster. Health screenings also occurring on site. Should be pretty interesting.

And you can always connect with me if you have questions or ideas about music. We were asking your favorite protest songs. I`m @AriMelber on social media, @AriMelber,, if you want to connect with me.

We are going to do an update on some of what all of you told us are the best protest songs out there, which brings me to where we`re headed.

Many of you agreed with Joy Reid on the favorite protest song. That will make our update, I think, well, soon, maybe next week.

Thanks for spending time with us on THE BEAT.

Here is Joy.

Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How you doing, Ari?

Well, first, I`m a little jelly because you had David Duchovny on. I`m like an O.G. "X-Files" fanatic. Like, that was one of my favorite shows of all time.

So, kudos on that.