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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 8/23/21

Guests: Jan Schakowsky, David Rothkopf, Faiz Shakir, Howard Dean

Summary

The FDA gives full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. Evacuations in Afghanistan continue. Nancy Pelosi pushes forward on the jobs plan. Facebook lets lies go viral. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky discusses the Democratic agenda.

Transcript

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC HOST: "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.

Hi, Ari.

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

And welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

And there is some major developments in the vaccine front today, the FDA giving full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. That is something many have awaited and debated. Well, it`s here, the first of the major vaccines to get this kind of full FDA approval. And, according to polling, this is something that some people were waiting on, so it could actually spur more Americans to get vaccinated.

President Biden speaking out today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me say this loudly and clearly. If you have -- if you`re one of the millions of Americans who said that they will not get the shot when it`s -- until has full and final approval of FDA, it has now happened.

The moment you have been waiting for is here. It`s time for you to go get your vaccination and get it today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s what it sounds like when the president of the United States is basically saying, it`s happening, guys, this is happening.

And while it`s a serious thing, you can kind of lean into the positivity of it, because doctors say this is the route to get through this terrible pandemic, get everyone vaccinated. And people have, as we have emphasized here, a range of reasons for making their own health care decisions.

This does apparently knock one of them off the list. Now, do people who`ve been holding back, will they go forward? Right now, we are seeing, of course, the costs of the lack of vaccination. There are Southern states where there is a dramatic rise in cases and people rushing to the hospital.

We see it in Mississippi and Alabama, Florida and Texas, all breaking records. And these are not the kind of records that any state wants to break. Take Florida, hospitalizations now at their highest level of the pandemic ever, more than 17,000 COVID patients. You see the line going up there.

That`s right now. And it`s not good. The governor there, DeSantis, has well something of a mutiny on his hands, with local counties saying that his demands would endanger their teachers and students. So, in that kind of emergency situation, where he is up against doctor`s orders and the CDC, they`re not having it.

And that`s continued to be a major flash point. A Florida judge will also hear a case of parents who are suing Governor DeSantis, saying that, yes, he has certain powers, but they must have limits if he demands that they put their children in danger -- 75 Palm Beach doctors also staging a walkout, with almost all of their patients still refusing to get vaccinated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ETHAN CHAPIN, JUPITER MEDICAL CENTER: What everyone should take away from this, what you should take away from this is, we have a -- there`s a consensus. There`s a medical consensus.

There`s not -- you may see a fringe doctor on a YouTube video. This is what the medical community is saying. We`re in this together. We have each other`s backs, and we`re telling you overwhelmingly, the science, the medicine supports getting the vaccine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That is something you don`t see every day, which is medical professionals turning to a kind of public activism to try to get people to follow what, again, are often called doctor`s orders, or at least medical guidance for how to keep yourself safe.

What you see here in Texas, obviously, it mirrors Florida. I`m going to leave this on the screen and take it in for a minute. You see the ups and downs. That`s what COVID was. The fact that we are peaking right now in Texas, in summer, when the vaccine is available, shows you that this thing can get even worse.

Consider this a public service announcement for Texas. They are up to over 13,000 COVID hospitalizations, and no sign this is going to drop on its own. The governor there announcing he`s now tested negative for COVID. He has, of course, very good treatment, which is not the same for all of his constituents.

He`s not changing in his call, though, to oppose basic safety measures.

Now, over the weekend -- I want to show you something -- there have been many, many calls, including on television and the media, for Donald Trump to say more. And he had a speaking event in Alabama to say more about something he did. If you want to be like Trump, he got vaccinated right away.

Here he is speaking about that in Alabama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I recommend taking the vaccines. I did it. It`s good. Take the vaccines.

But you got -- no, that`s OK. That`s all right. You got your freedoms. But I happened to take the vaccine. If it doesn`t work, you will be the first to know, OK?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, let`s be clear. There were a lot of people saying that leaders should do this, whether you mean that person, who was, of course, the president at one point or anybody else.

So it`s a low bar, but credit where it`s due. Donald Trump is doing the thing that many experts in the CDC and others have asked for, which is continuing to speak out to let people know, including people who listen to him live or online or on TV, to try to get vaccinated.

He did it in his way with a little bit of a joke. He got a couple of boos, but it happened. So he met that bar. OK.

[18:05:05]

Now, Americans are for getting this thing done in the main. The mentions about personal freedom or liberty, that`s relevant to some degree. We are a democracy, and people make their own choices.

But let`s look at what`s going on out here, as COVID surges and hospital rates are terrible. Americans favor the safety measures. They see masking during a pandemic as a matter of health and safety more than opposing it; 61 percent actually think the vaccine mandates, with a religious exception, are the way to go.

Remember, the federal government in this country has not even tried to mandate any of this. The idea that most Americans think that, unless you have a genuine religious objection, you should be mandated is also really telling about where we`re at.

I`m joined now by a physician and policymaker, Howard Dean. He was governor and chair of the DNC. And Dr. Kavita Patel, former Obama health policy adviser now with Brookings as well.

Governor Dr. Dean, your response to Donald Trump saying something straightforward, but something that he`d been called upon to reiterate to people who listen to him more, which is try the vaccine, go get it done, it works?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Yes, I think it`s important that he did that.

And I think it was important that he said that in front of his core followers who he has created a tremendous amount of pain in.

The one thing I will say about all this is that it`s very clear that the acceptance of the vaccine is growing. I think the major reason it`s growing is because a lot of people know people who are not only getting sick, but dying.

MELBER: Yes.

DEAN: A lot of unvaccinated people who basically didn`t get the vaccine before it, especially in Southern conservative states, Florida being the worst in the country now, are taking the vaccine because their relatives and friends are dying.

MELBER: Yes.

Doctor, can you speak to your fellow doctor and policy-maker`s point that there`s different ways people learn, but if this thing is getting to a critical mass in areas where people had mentally or otherwise held out on it, maybe they`re having a different experience now?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Ari, I think when this entire pandemic unfolded, it did seem like it was limited to regions.

We knew that it wasn`t. But we saw the Northeast and then the Pacific Northwest and then eventually different regions of the country. But until you saw this stark divide after we had vaccines authorized, and not just one, two, three, with an abundant supply, Ari, across the country, then you just saw those stark curves that you have been showing.

And data supports that over 95 percent of the hospitalizations are in unvaccinated people. And then, once you layer on top of that, that young children, young adults were also a huge driver in new cases, it`s only inevitable.

This was a virus that spread through social networks. So it was only reasonable that people in social networks eventually knew someone who died, was hospitalized, and especially young people who were missing work and they were sick.

So I do completely agree with Governor Dean and feel like this approval is just one more, I think, kind of stepping-stone to getting, honestly not soon enough, but getting tens of millions of more people vaccinated, whether it`s by mandate or people stepping up and volunteering.

MELBER: Yes, which goes to, as you say, where do they get their information? And do they get it from their social group, do they get it online, or do they get it from other sources, which might be quite politicized?

Governor Dean, on your list of people that you`re worried about tonight, I know that -- because I know you, I know Sean Hannity might not be super high on your list, but he`s going to have to figure out, because he`s not consistent with anything he`s said about this issue, will he be Sean Hannity 1.0, who was attacking vaccines? Will he be 2.0, who actually at one point said get them?

Will he be 3.0, who backtracked on that under pressure? Or will he be potentially 4.0, now that Donald Trump is out this weekend saying it? I guess you would have to tune in to find out, but in the spirit of fact- checking, Governor, take a listen to the CDC director, who I just interviewed, and what she wanted people to know about why she says Hannity`s latest recommendations are false.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: My job is to give accurate information to the American people.

Here`s the accurate information. The vast majority of people in this country who are getting infected with COVID, who are showing up in the hospital with COVID, and now who are dying with COVID are people who have not received this vaccine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Dr. Dean?

DEAN: Yes.

I mean, look, first of all, we shouldn`t be discussing Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. If they`re not crazy, they`re something incredibly close to it. So that`s just a waste of everybody`s time.

[18:10:08]

I do think that they`re going to now have to cover their butts, because they have been riding the Trump wave for a long time. And it`s just been for the money. I don`t think any of them have any personal convictions of any kind.

So let`s just leave them out of the equation, so we can actually talk about science and the facts.

MELBER: Yes.

Well, on that point, on the science, Doctor, the president today was also urging businesses to do what traditionally, in the United States, the federal government does it, which is try to have some sort of mandates. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: If you`re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that, require it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Doctor, just give us a refresher on where the final approval fits in, because we have heard from experts that even the emergency authorization was perfectly fine to take it, and what the president is getting at here, because he`s trying to get the business community to sort of back up what he says the CDC and the science provides for.

PATEL: Yes, Ari, I think what he`s -- well, number one, you certainly know that the law is on the side even when the vaccine was authorized, not fully approved.

But I do know that businesses, especially state and local leaders -- you have seen it with the mayor of New York City and other -- the superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District -- they all were really waiting for this mandate to be able to say -- this approval -- to be able to mandate it and not to have to do this kind of compromise of a vaccine requirement, plus testing.

So I think the approval really signals that the days of kind of carrots -- we talk about lotteries and handing out as many financial incentives to get people vaccinated. Sounded good in the beginning. That was before the Delta variant. We don`t have the luxury of that time.

So it does give a tailwind to people who are waiting for that approval. I think, on top of that, it will also give businesses and local retailers a little more conviction to put up a sign in their storefront and say, all of our -- all of our staff are vaccinated and you can feel safe coming in.

And I think, Ari, that`s not unreasonable to expect across the country.

MELBER: Number one, a fair point.

Number two, I think Sean Hannity just called Dr. Dean, if you need to take Hannity`s call.

(LAUGHTER)

DEAN: Shall I be taking some...

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Or you`re putting us first?

DEAN: Should I do some worming here and take horse and cow de-worming stuff, invectin, or whatever it`s called?

I have actually a question for the doctor.

MELBER: No, we just -- go ahead.

DEAN: What?

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: Go ahead.

DEAN: So, I`m very worried about the illness, the nature of the illness of children, because they can`t be vaccinated.

This Delta is clearly making children much sicker than the first variant was. I`m toying with the notion -- I`m not a public health expert -- of thinking that we should break the blind and the studies and go ahead and start giving an emergency -- an emergency of vaccination for at least the Pfizer, which is being studied in young people, for maybe even as low as 2.

What do you think about that?

PATEL: Yes, Dr. Dean, you bring up an important point.

It`s something that, by the way, it`s why the American Academy of Pediatrics actually had to release a statement today, because now that Pfizer is fully approved, you could theoretically give off-label vaccines legally to people 12 and under. You would have to consider the dose and consider what the consent looks like.

DEAN: Right.

PATEL: The AAP wants us to back off and discourages any of us from doing that.

I think you`re right, Governor Dean, that we have to start to address the fact that even a 2 percent hospitalization rate is unacceptable, and that - - and, yes, unblinding the study, unfortunately, though, what I would worry is going to actually deter people from getting vaccinated.

DEAN: Yes, that`s the problem.

PATEL: We feel like we`re close.

Right. So, we`re close. Pfizer said that they should have that initial readout by the end of September. So it feels like if we can`t suck it up and get adults vaccinated and people who are eligible and put a mask on to save our children, then shame on us as a country.

MELBER: Right. Yes.

PATEL: And, unfortunately, that`s where we`re at.

MELBER: Yes, I got to fit in a break, but all important stuff. And having two doctors in a colloquy does make us slightly more informed as we move forward through this. It`s not going away on its own.

Dr. Patel, Dr. Dean, thanks to both of you.

When we come back: The other big story is the Afghan evacuations continue, Joe Biden hitting at the hawks. Pelosi tonight pushing forward on the jobs plan. There are votes in the House that could come this hour.

And later tonight, you may remember we have talked about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. We have a fact-check to hold them accountable as they let lies go viral.

[18:15:05]

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Turning to Afghanistan, the Biden White House is striking back at some of their critics, including emphasizing the fact that a lot of the people who`ve been hitting this administration over the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan are basically hawks or people who got Mideast policy wrong.

Now the latest is the U.S. evacuating 37,000 people over 10 days, 16,000 just in the last 24 hours. It`s a fluid situation, the Taliban pressing the U.S. to get troops out by the end of the month, warning that they may take other measures.

As of tonight, there is not a report of us casualties from within this operation, but many tough, heart-wrenching stories that address the humanitarian crisis, including people in Afghanistan, innocent civilians and the allies who helped United States operation over all these years.

Now, where`s President Biden on his decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: There was no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss of heartbreaking images you see on television. It`s just a fact.

I think that history is going to record this was the logical, rational and right decision to make.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: This president is bracing for history to treat him kindly as a rational actor.

[18:20:03]

Now, that may be his own self-interest, but let`s be clear. History has not been as kind to other people who are the same ones attacking this plan.

A report in Huffington Post says that many people in the White House see this as a revenge of the hawks who got so much wrong. Take former British P.M. Tony Blair. He teamed up with George W. Bush on the long war policy, not only in Afghanistan, but on backing a preemptive or proactive attack on Iraq.

Now he`s out saying that this withdrawal from Afghanistan is imbecilic and that Biden didn`t even need to do it. But he is the person that history now, at least 20 years running, has judged so unkindly. Now he`s a new hawkish critic.

Or take someone else who, according to the White House, doesn`t have a lot of credibility here, the architect of the messages that sold the original Iraq War, Karl Rove. He says -- quote -- "It will be impossible for Biden to wash this stain away."

Spoken like someone who has a lot of experience with political laundry detergent and the stain of the Bush foreign policy.

Now, as for the situation after the Taliban`s takeover, a majority of Americans still say they back this withdraw. And while Joe Biden has certainly contended with some tough visuals and images out there, you have about a 50/50 on the approval of the issue; 36 percent, a much smaller group, say Biden bears a lot of responsibility for the Taliban`s return. A quarter also blame Donald Trump.

He infamously cut the Taliban deal for withdrawal, whether everyone was following it closely or not. And Republicans weighing in against Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): An indefensible step by the Trump administration. They forced the Afghan national government, we did, to release 5,000 prisoners. So that led directly to the catastrophe that we`re seeing today.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Mike Pompeo met with the Taliban as Donald Trump was publicly saying, we have to get out of Afghanistan at all costs, it`s not worth it.

Mike Pompeo meets with the Taliban and tries to negotiate something. So they set this up to fail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It is getting hot in here, and the hawks are getting called out. So let`s get into this, because it`s an important debate for America and the future.

We have two experts when we`re back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: I`m joined now by David Rothkopf, a former senior Clinton official. He hosts "Deep State Radio." And Faiz Shakir, who ran Bernie Sanders` 2020 presidential campaign.

Good to see you both.

Faiz, I`m going to go right to you.

There are a lot of people who were publicly wrong who are trying to grab the mic. Tony Blair is just a very prominent example. I`m curious what this tells us, in your view, about how hard it is to make these type of moves to change U.S. foreign policy and whether Washington is still weirdly stacked with microphones for people who`ve been wrong a lot on Mideast policy.

FAIZ SHAKIR, BERNIE SANDERS 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Right.

And the irony, Ari, is that if you flashback to 10, 15 years ago, when the vote for Afghanistan was held, Joe Biden was on their side. And yet Joe Biden deserves credit for rationally moving to the right position of a withdrawal and advocating for it and explaining why it`s necessary, while all these other hawks that you mentioned have stuck their heads in the sand and say, oh, no, my original terrible decision must be maintained infinite -- for infinite periods of time, right?

There never will become a comfortable time where they would advocate for withdrawal. And to his credit, Joe Biden campaigned on this, right? He said it a number of times. I remember hearing it on the debate stage. I remember there was one debate in particular with PBS.

Amna Nawaz asked him the question about, hey, did the Obama administration get it wrong about a surge in Afghanistan? He said, yes, we got it wrong. I have been advocating that we need to get out of Afghanistan. And if you put me in office as president of the United States, I will get us out on day one.

He`s staying true to exactly what he campaigned on.

MELBER: David?

DAVID ROTHKOPF, CEO, THE ROTHKOPF GROUP: Yes, absolutely true.

The people who are his critics got it wrong. Now, they got it wrong in different ways. Some of them are Bush administration guys who got us into this and gave us no mission and then led to war the last 20 years.

[18:25:08]

Some of them are Obama administration guys who didn`t get us out of this, when people like Joe Biden 12 years ago suggested that we get out of it. Some of them are Trump administration guys who suggested we release 5,000 Taliban, that we capitulate, that we get out on a sooner timetable, and, importantly, Trump administration guys who blocked visas for the Afghans.

They`re now criticizing the way this is being held, but they didn`t give the Afghans who wanted to get out even the opportunity to get out. These people have no credibility. I don`t know why they`re being given the microphone, except it makes for kind of good television.

But when Karl Rove starts telling somebody that they have got a stain, they got to look at that as a badge of honor, given his record. And right now, I think, if you look at what the president has done, ending a 20-year war, and if you look at what the president is doing now, almost 50,000 people out in eight days, you have to say this is going to be a badge of honor for Joe Biden when history looks back on it.

MELBER: Yes.

And, David, from a foreign policy perspective, how do you evaluate that? Because the problem is, you have different interests. So, as a humanitarian, it`s going to be really bad for a lot of people in Afghanistan to live under Taliban rule. We know and knew that.

And so that`s very real. Having said that, if you actually extricate, and you take that as a given, because, sadly, that`s the situation, then extricating without, up to this point, U.S. casualties and without other greater problems, would seem to be what you do, and then you live with the costs of the vacuum.

Is that different than the way this has been at least appraised as of last week by the so-called -- many of the so-called experts, David?

ROTHKOPF: Well, look, there are no perfect solutions to foreign policy problems, but this one`s pretty close.

I mean, we were there for 20 years. We spent a trillion dollars. We lost thousands of our lives; 170,000 lives in total were lost. And we were distracted from our priorities. President Biden says he wants to end that.

This kind of a situation, of course, is not what people sought. We didn`t succeed in Afghanistan in rebuilding the nation. The Taliban, who were in charge in the `90s, are taking control again.

MELBER: Right.

ROTHKOPF: And there is no neat way to do that transition.

But I would say one last thing, which is the military is not the solution. We have been there 20 years. We haven`t solved this problem that way. So let`s use diplomacy. Let`s use politics. Let`s use economics. Let`s use tools to help the people of Afghanistan. Let`s just not use the one that hasn`t worked for 20 years.

MELBER: Right.

And that`s where the public seems to be, as I emphasized, the long-term plan had been an endless military subsidy for this state, after the original objective of getting bin Laden was 18 or 19 years over, getting him out of the state at least, 18, 19 years.

And then, of course, he was actually apprehended, killed later. So how long do you run that subsidy? The public seems to say, enough. And yet we will see where the narrators land.

We have a lot in the show, so I have to fit in a break. But I want to thank David and Faiz, both of you, for being part of this.

Coming up, the first House votes on the other big issue, the Biden jobs program. We have a Pelosi insider who actually just met with her today.

But, first, our breakdown, a bombshell "New York Times" story that shows Facebook is hiding because they know they`re wrong, spreading COVID lies. My fact-check for Mark Zuckerberg right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:32:38]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: On COVID misinformation, what`s your message to platforms like Facebook?

BIDEN: They`re killing people. I mean, they`re really -- they`re -- look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated.

And that`s -- and they`re killing people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Killing people, President Biden there bluntly calling out Facebook`s dangerous impact for how it amplifies COVID misinformation to often hundreds of millions of people.

It`s a reminder that what Facebook does day in and day out, whether you`re following it closely or not, is a presidential level issue.

And we have news on this front right now which busts up some of the claims that Facebook`s leaders have made over the years, as the company grew from something that they touted as powerful, that it was going to reshape the Web, to then getting power and starting to pretend that maybe Facebook doesn`t have all the power that it clearly does.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, FACEBOOK: I think it`s shaping the -- it`s shaping the broader Web.

Personally. I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it`s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way, I think, is a pretty crazy idea.

My position is not that there should be no regulation. But I also think that you have to be careful about what regulation you put in place. I don`t know the answer to that off the top of my head.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): So you won`t take down lies or you will take down lies? I think that`s just a pretty simple yes or no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Under fire, Facebook founder Zuckerberg has backtracked.

He later said he realized fake news and disinformation does impact elections. And now he says they have more systems to stop misinformation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZUCKERBERG: In terms of fighting misinformation, we have taken down more than 18 million pieces of misinformation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, it may be that Facebook works to patrol some of that, but they`re back in hot water tonight.

And this is so important. That`s why I`m giving you the news on it. There`s this explosive "New York Times" investigative report, brand-new, that found Facebook hid the truth about what is actually its most popular viral content. And this is from the beginning of 2021.

The report was going to be new about what they`d learned, but they hid it. Why? Because it would undercut some of those Facebook claims you just heard.

[18:35:03]

They had claimed they would transparently release this kind of information. Then they hid its own data from Facebook and that promised report because it revealed that the top most viewed Facebook posts in those first months of 2021, as COVID raged and the vaccine push began, was a piece that darkly suggested, without evidence, that maybe the COVID vaccine itself was responsible for the death of a Florida doctor.

Fact-check, no autopsy report has found that the vaccine was the cause of that death. That is something that, if true, would be big news. But the reach of that was gigantic.

The top cable news shows -- you watch cable news sometimes, I can tell -- well, the top shows will draw up to several million viewers a night. Big network entertainment TV or sports, they can shoot above five million viewers. That single Facebook post I`m telling you about, it went viral and reached 54 million accounts in the U.S. alone.

Now, Facebook knew that. And according to "The New York Times," Facebook knew it would look bad to claim they`re taking down misinformation, when literally their top viral item out of everything -- I don`t mean just out of alleged news -- I mean out of everything -- during the vaccine rollout was this evidence-free headline that would make many people think twice about a vaccine, if doctors were allegedly dying of it already.

Now, there are even secret internal e-mails busting Facebook for that cynical plan to bury the report. If this were in court, that kind of cover- up makes you look way worse, because a cover-up is evidence of your bad intent, and shows people knew internally at the time they were already wrong.

And this is a long ways from what can be tougher debates about censorship. The main issue here is that Facebook profits off super viral content. It stokes the engagement that keeps the site relevant, even as they worry about new other social media platforms like TikTok.

And in 2021 -- I bet you already know this -- disinformation and conspiracies about the vaccine are a big deal that millions of people engage in, which, to Facebook, makes them big business.

Now, the company doesn`t have to censor this content. It could flag it really clearly, or lessen the posts from going viral without taking it down, or put up a more factual headline, which is the first thing people see, that doesn`t suggest something I`m not going to repeat about the vaccine.

But Zuckerberg claims, really, it boils down to nuance and tough calls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZUCKERBERG: Well, I think, to some degree, there are also different definitions that people have over what misinformation is, where a lot of the stuff that`s actually the hardest for us to really address is not what I would call misinformation, but instead another category that I would call hesitancy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, American people have the right to say a great range of things without the government punishing them.

But when Zuckerberg says it`s hard to address misinformation, well, this is a choice that a private company makes. They make choices every day about what to promote or limit what they want to be associated with or not.

And it is more easy for Facebook to take down random stuff that`s not profitable for them in the first place. The test here is actually when the viral content is key to their business model. COVID is a big flash point. But this trend has been there before.

Fake news election stories had a million more engagements than real, actual news stories, according to data from BuzzFeed. And Zuckerberg was dismissing the political impact of fake news -- we showed you that -- at the very time that his site`s top items during the 2016 election home front were lies that went viral about candidate Hillary Clinton and the absurdly false claim that the pope had endorsed Trump.

Did you hear about that? Well, on Facebook, you would.

Now, how should any of this be addressed? Well, there`s actually a wider push to regulate or even break up big tech like Facebook. And it builds on ideas from writers and some law professors and one law professor-turned- senator who pushed this very kind of plan, who was prescient about these problems during her campaign.

Elizabeth Warren had a whole campaign proposal about this. Here she was on THE BEAT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Amazon.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Can I have two words?

MELBER: Sure.

WARREN: Too big.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: Google.

WARREN: Too big.

MELBER: Facebook.

WARREN: Too big.

They have got too much power. And they get to use that power now to dominate markets, to chew up competitors, and, ultimately, to change the consumer experience. We have got to change that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Here`s what`s new now.

Elections have consequences. The Biden administration is actually taking a page from that Warren playbook, empowering tougher tech regulators.

[18:40:06]

Silicon Valley reportedly scared of new Biden appointees at DOJ and an Amazon critic over at the FTC. And a pioneer in getting tougher on rethinking big tech, Tim Wu, is now at President Biden`s side.

This is actually really important regulatory stuff. Now, it obviously happens offstage in the backrooms, but it can shape how these companies dictate our lives, or whether they spread lies that measurably, demonstrably lengthen this pandemic.

So, it`s worth tracking, even if it`s not always making the big headlines. Here are just some of those new Biden picks who scare Silicon Valley.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN KANTER, U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: Should antitrust be dealing with companies that allegedly have dominance or using that dominance to exclude rivals? Of course.

Monopolization cases are the antitrust equivalent of jaywalking. You just don`t see them. People don`t care about them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It became very clear that there was something going on here, That Amazon was slowly, but steadily amassing structural dominance in some of these markets in ways that I thought raised huge questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it could be very important, for example, to take action against Facebook to break up some of their illegal mergers, especially Instagram and WhatsApp.

TIM WU, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL: The big are getting big. I mean, this -- as everyone knows, this quarantine has been great for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: You take it all together, OK, so Biden finally has some tougher people in charge, but what next? When will there be change?

Well, it`s actually already happening right now. This is the kind of story that you may not always hear about. You may not hear about it on Facebook. It`s hard to get through all of that -- all that vaccine stuff.

But the Biden administration is actually trying to force a potential breakup of Facebook in court right now, taking Zuckerberg`s company, through the DOJ, to court with a new Biden administration case that argues Facebook is now a dangerous monopoly, which is asking then the Biden administration for major remedies that could include, depending on what the courts decide, an antitrust breakup.

And that means the Biden administration is saying, no more Mr. Nice Guy, no more debating. Facebook has already become, in their view, legally so powerful that it shouldn`t be allowed, that they are essentially a monopoly over information. Even if they don`t consider themselves a news publisher, they have the power of 10 of them combined.

So this is really happening. Facebook has until October 4 to respond to what has been a second or double-down version of this monopoly case.

Now, nothing can be done with a silver bullet. If you broke up big tech or separated some of these properties, that doesn`t mean that it would automatically fix all of the dangerous misinformation. But it would do something about the power, because the world has changed a lot. We all know that.

We have been living through tumultuous times, from the pandemic, from our political era, and from our technological developments. Has U.S. government really caught up with this, or is part of the reason that some of these other problems seem so bad, from people rushing the Capitol, to way more people actually thinking the vaccine is the problem, rather than the solution, is that because of problems that are just out of view that aren`t on the news every night, that aren`t on television, and yet that control us in all these special ways that we don`t even realize?

That`s real power.

We will be watching this case and keeping you posted on it.

Now, up ahead tonight, you may remember the duo of Bill Kristol and Fat Joe, political wunderkinds. We have an update on that.

And coming up, a top Dem on the Biden agenda and meeting with Speaker Pelosi today.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:48:10]

MELBER: We`re now joined by Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky coming straight from a leadership meeting with Speaker Pelosi today and a lot of big votes.

What, if anything, can you tell us about the meeting and the Biden economic agenda hitting the floor?

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D-IL): You know, I have to tell you, Ari, this was one of the most inspiring meetings I have ever been at in my 22 years in the Congress.

What people were getting up and saying is that we have an opportunity at this moment to transform, for the American people, legislation that will provide them with the things that they`re asking, for child care, for long- term care for seniors, for a serious attack on the climate crisis, for workers that need help so badly.

It was -- it was an amazing conversation. It was just that we need to pass this legislation, that it`s a rule that will also give us the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, that will give us upcoming the infrastructure, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and an opportunity to deal with so many other things in a reconciliation bill, a bill that only needs 51 votes in the Senate.

It was amazing.

MELBER: Take a look at this ad from liberal group Justice Democrats. We will play a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: These nine conservative Democrats are sabotaging Biden`s agenda, because it would make billionaires and corporations pay their fair share.

Tell Representative Gottheimer, stop obstructing President Biden and start working for the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: We hear about McConnell obstruction. This is the view of some progressives that the obstruction is coming from inside the caucus.

[18:50:06]

Walk us through this. And what`s your -- what`s your actual analysis? Is there concern that this affects the total vote tally?

SCHAKOWSKY: Oh, well, what we were saying is that what happens if this rule goes down is that it empowers the Republicans, who have a very different agenda.

And by passing the rule, we don`t fail to address the bipartisan infrastructure bill. That`s what some of our colleagues in the Democratic side are saying, we should do that first.

We can do it all. We can do Voting Rights Act, the John Lewis bill. We can do the infrastructure bill. And, by the way, the money for an infrastructure bill can`t happen until the next fiscal year anyway. And that`s the time that we will begin working on that, as well as a reconciliation and the Voting Rights Act.

So there`s no rush for us to do this before September. And that`s where we`re at right now. So, we are appealing to the Democrats not to turn over the gavel in many ways or the power to the Republicans. We will see.

I think we are beginning to make progress, and, hopefully, in a very short while. Rules is meeting right now, putting the bill on the floor. And there were just these amazing speeches, not only from the leadership, but from rank-and-file people and people who are called front-liners in very difficult districts, saying, we have to deliver for the American people.

MELBER: Yes.

All right, well, look, it`s good to get the update, as well as your view, as you said, one of the high points of decades in Congress.

Congresswoman Schakowsky, thank you so much.

SCHAKOWSKY: It`s been a pleasure. Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Absolutely.

When we come back, we have something very special. Many people know Fat Joe for his political commentary right here on THE BEAT, his tough words for Trump.

We have a special update you won`t see anywhere else -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:56:20]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAT JOE, RAPPER: I just want to send this message out to Donald Trump. It`s too late, baby. Yeah, it`s too late.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: When we try to make sense of this strange and unpredictable world here on THE BEAT, well, we turn to all kinds of voices, from journalists to artists, who are often ahead of many others in society.

So, from singer Carole King to rapper Fat Joe, art expands our minds. And Joe has turned out to be a real favorite around here teaming up with Bill Kristol to always put things in perspective.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAT JOE: You have really got like people almost, essentially, there`s zombies to Donald Trump out there. They believe in whatever he has to say, even though we know it isn`t true.

People got to stand together, black, white, Latino, Asian, whatever. We all need to stand together. And if we stand for love over hate, then that`s what`s going to win.

We for sure will not let Donald Trump become president for a second time.

MELBER: That`s how you feel?

FAT JOE: I know so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: He knew it.

Well, now Joe just celebrated his birthday this weekend, actually in the same building complex as MSNBC`s studio. It was a coincidence. And he brought out music royalty like LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige, Ashanti, Remy Ma, Swizz Beatz, Slick Rick, and so many more.

Now, full disclosure, Fat Joe invited me. And I had a blast seeing him and some of the artists who`ve been on THE BEAT. There`s Slick Rick. Also saw Dave East over the shoulder and Busta Rhymes.

The whole thing honestly felt more like a celebration of New York hip-hop than celebrating Fat Joe himself. Maybe that`s because he`s the kind of guy and the kind of party he throws that is really for everyone.

And I want to tell you, as for these images we`re sharing with you on THE BEAT right now, they`re all courtesy of another veteran of the music business who`s often behind the scenes, New York photographer Johnny Nunez, who is out here and just about every rap event, underground or not.

Indeed, as the legendary lyricist Nas said, sitting on governor`s aisle with all the killers, premier movies with my man De Niro, and Johnny Nunez got all the pictures.

Yes, indeed.

Now, how does Johnny stay up for all these parties? Well, he never sleeps, because sleep is the cousin of death. Am I quoting the 16th century poet Thomas Sackville, or am I quoting Nas again? Well, we may never know.

Finally, we have a related programming note. And it`s also a shout-out to one of our hard working MSNBC colleagues, Trymaine Lee. I`m sure him from appearing on so many programs and doing his reporting. Well, he also has an MSNBC podcast, you see right here, "Into America."

And, tonight, we wanted to make sure that the new episode features the icon of hip-hop Big Daddy Kane. So why wouldn`t you want to hear Trymaine and the Big Daddy himself wherever you get your podcasts?

Now, if you have any further thoughts about who else we should have on with Fat Joe the next time he comes, should it be Bill Kristol or someone else, let me know. You can always find me online @AriMelber on social media. Should Fat Joe return with Bill Kristol? Or do you want to put somebody else on the island?

You can also connect with me AriMelber.com, subscribe to my free newsletter, or @AriMelber to answer the question, who should we pair when Fat Joe returns?

That does it for THE BEAT.

As always, thank you for watching. And thank you for your patience.

"THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next.

Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Hey, Ari.

I love that THE BEAT is a democracy. I love that.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: We love democracy. I`m pro-democracy, right?

MELBER: We need that.

REID: I say it on my Twitter handle.

Thank you very much. Have a great evening. Good night.